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Why female farm workers’ nutrition levels drop during peak agricultural seasons

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When women put in extra hours on farms in peak seasons of sowing, transplanting and harvesting, it may impact their food preparation time and reduce nutrient intake, a study finds. The research draws attention to the consequences of increased time burdens on farms and the adverse effects on women’s nutrition.

Women-friendly, labour-saving devices on farms and at home can support the growing participation of women in agriculture, but a stronger policy response is needed in India where women constitute over a third of the farm labour force.

Women in India spend about 32% of their time on agricultural activities such as transplanting, weeding, harvesting; juggling multiple roles, they spend an average of 300 minutes per day in unpaid work at home in cooking, and other domestic activities including caring for children/family.

But when their work on farms is extended in peak seasons, they pitch in more time. On average, a woman spends almost the same time as a man in agriculture, but men spend limited time in food preparation, domestic work, and care activities, notes the study.

“There is an opportunity cost involved for women in agriculture,” said the study co-author Vidya Vemireddy. “If they lose out on time in agriculture then they will lose out on that wage; the wages foregone if they…

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