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Dear FSN forum,
I believe that gender equality and sustainable soil management is deeply interconnected. In my project context in India, I have experienced that when men and women work together at farm it becomes more productive for them and society.
In one of my project in eastern India, I have done some trend analysis and found that women used to carry food to the field for men and gradually they started getting involved in farming. Further women's involvement started happening through more decision making oriented.
So, here is lot of scope that if we build farming skill of women members simultaneously with men, then both can take decision on what kind of seed to be purchased, what kind of soil management need to be followed, what kind of mulching mechanism need to followed, what amount of organic compost need to be applied in gardening etc.
Many a times, we silently ignore the women's capacity building though they manage that work. E.g. in one project, my partner used to install vermi-compost pit just beside the farm house to produce quality compost and apply into the gardening. Partner have conducted many training /awareness program where women's participation was only 8 percent. Interestingly the women only put the waste into the compost pit, manage the whole process till compost ready stage. But our partner never thought (in 3 years) to build their skill on compost application for better soil health management. So, this knowledge gap is not conducive for soil health management.
On other perspective, the ownership on land also a big factor which is remain neglected in many cases. But when a small farm families holds the lands (even tiny plots) there will be higher chances to see that women and men happily involved in farm operations. Even if we provide training, they show keen interest to adopt good agronomic practices because they know that they could easily apply on their own plots. So, land ownership and acknowledging women member's role could bridge between gender equality and soil health management.
Sometimes, we have experienced that women members always try to do something related with gardening in small plot and maintain livestock at home. Whereas men try to focus on large scale farming like rice/wheat/corn etc. So, integration is required into their ideology that soil as whole as unique resources and caring all God's creation in soil need to save.
Ultimately similar understanding and participation in program, land ownership process, conflict resolution skill on land issues, gender specific strategy for all kinds of agro-input distributions, uses of easy farm tools to reduced drudgery etc. could play vital role in gender equality and soil management.
We are all committed to achieve SDG2 beside all other SDGs. I belief this SDG 2 is our top most priority as if people have access to safe food & no hunger, then only we can move for al other SDGs.
My work since 2009 has been helping many underprievileged communities in India (Esatern States) through different food security & sustainable agriculture projects. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is working on most of SDGs where SDG2 is our priority. As we are investing on small holder farmers and working togther by understading their context well and planning is very essential to achieve food security. Many young farmers in my projects are coming in front and they are showing the best way that agriculture can not remain same. When small farmers and local farm science center extension institute (scientists) are working side by side then achieving goal becoming easier. Most of the smallholders are suffering for water stress throughout my country India. MCC and one of it's partner adressing this water issues in Odisha state, very easily adopting the spring water harvest system in Eastern ghat hills. I found that women members are highly benefitted with all smallholders farm families. I have attached two stories of my project.