Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Dr. Mahesh Chander

Organization: Indian Veterinary Research Institute
Country: India
Field(s) of expertise:
I am working on:

Agricultural Extension Education as researcher, teacher and field extension services for livestock development. Organic agriculture, entrepreneurship and youth are the are focus areas of my work.

This member contributed to:

    • 1. Voluntary guidance tool for the sustainable enhancement of small-scale livestock productivity – Need, scope, nature, and development process is a welcome step

      2. Considering samll scale livestock production,particularly small ruminaants & backyard poulty production is mostly in the hands of women-the tasks like cleaning of sheds, feeding/tending of animals including fodder gahtering but limited access to marketing opportunities.Women often dont own the livestock resources  with limited rights on earnings from livestock.

      3. Social norms in many developing countries often limit their reach to formal sources of information like extension & advisory services.Women have less access to rural advisory and extension services, and those they can access are often not well adapted to their needs and realities reducing their productivity and associated incomes.

      I am currently working on a CGIAR Gender Platform supported HER+ project, Bundling socio-technical innovations to empower women as partners and drivers of climate change solutions.The CGIAR Initiative on Gender Equality (HER+: Harnessing Gender and Social Equality for Resilience in Agri-food systems) aims to achieve climate resilience by strengthening gender equality and social inclusion across food systems in the Global South. Under this, we are trying to bundle social innovations alongside technical innovation while communicating livestock innovations to women groups belonging to marginalized sections of society in India.

      Various such initiatives can help develop Voluntary guidance tool for the sustainable enhancement of small-scale livestock productivity.

    •  Limited understanding of the policy process is one of the important barriers for the scientists: To overcome this, scientiststs' capacity need to be build up in this domain. In fact, it should be taught  at educational levels itself, while doing Master's  or doctoral programmes in agricultural  or food science subjects. For instance, in India, a new course POLICY ENGAGEMENT AND EXTENSION  has been recently introduced at doctoral level in Agricultural Extension discipline (Course Content attached) by Indian Council of Agricultural Research. This course was resisted initally by some faculties, citing there was no standard text book available and also stating that why this course is needed? Since I was involved as a Member of Committee in revising & designing of New courses in the discipline of Agricultural Extension, I do get queries from faculty in Agricultural Universities seeking guidance on this course. In fact, a phone call today regarding this courses prompted me to write this post.  As far as possible, we tried to source the available references on policy- what & how policies are made, impact of policies, policy engagement etc. In fact, the References given in the attached document as resource material for this new course on Policy Engagement and Extension, could be useful for many scientists looking for reading material on policy development. What we need at the moment, a systematically written text book on Policy Enagagement in the field of Agrifood systems. Any suggestions/guidance in this area? May be some experts can organize webinars covering different topics sharing their experiences. We do have a very effective platform, which can coordinate webinar for the benefit of faculty responsible for the course on Policy Engagment & Extension. Anyone willing to deliver lecture on any one of th etopics listed in the course content? This is the way we can probably overcome the barriers!!

    • The United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organization has  declared 2023 as the  International Year of Millets 2023! how this policy decision was arrived? was it due to evidence that millets are very nutritive? or due to many small holders in Asia & Africa cultivate & depend on millets? or millets can be grown comparatively in water scarce conditions, or poor people cant afford buying cereals? It could also be all factors together led to the decision. What process was followed to arrive at this policy decision-evidences produced by scientists and presented before the policy makers/politicians to convince? India is one of the leading camapigners of International Year of Millets.

      The scientists enaged in research on millets often publish papers on virtues of millets-decalring them as super foods, leading to consumer acceptance in many countries. Since 2023 has been declared as Year of Millets, we are likely to see huge number of research papers, articles, books, blogs published including social media campaigns in support of millets adding fresh evidences on virtues of millets. We are likely to see increasing export of millets  from developing countries to countries in North, where millets could be new craze. At times decision taken at highest level influences many processes at different level. Thanks to this decision, many millets which were on the brink of extinction-likely to see revival in many countries including India. In my childhood, I used to consume lot of finger millet & maize, but as I grew up & became a bit wealthier, I stopped eating these coarse grains, no matter 100s of publications approving these as health foods. May be now me too will look towards these once again-thanks to policy decisions at highest levels!!….….

    • Many a time work done by scientists doesn’t contribute to policy, because of several barriers:

      1. The work being done may not have any policy implications considering the national priorities & global realities
      2. Scientists may not be knowing how to draw attention of policy makers to work done & evidence generated
      3. Lack of opportunities including ignorance on how to contribute in the policy development processes like consultations, feedback etc.

      The private sector agencies proactively promote their products often succeeding in getting included their interests in policy documents. While public organizations often don’t so proactively promote their work- may be lack of motivation & encouragement, lack of incentives etc.

      1. The scientists prefer to publish their work in science journals, but the papers published in subject specific journals are not generally read by policy makers, decision making bodies. There are other modes like blogs, newspaper/magazine articles and social media channels, which can attract the attention of policy making bodies, since these are written in simple and easily understood ways compared to complex scientific writings.
      2. The scientists if they are passionate about work they have done and believe that it has strong policy implications, have to strive hard to make it widely available so as to get attention of policy makers. This is required at the level of individual scientists since institutional mechanisms are often not in place to facilitate conveying scientists’ work to policy making bodies.

      I have tried to reach to wider audiences via my blogs on contemporary issues, which are read by people close to policy making bodies, who would otherwise not care to read my articles published in journals on my subject. For instance, I found Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as an important way-out to meet expenses incurred in outreach activities, since public sector funds are increasingly getting scarce.

      Example: I guided one PhD thesis in on CSR, made conference presentations, wrote research articles and published blogs at popular platforms like Agrilinks (USAID) & AESA. This effort may slowly reach or already in discussion that CSR funds can be tapped to reach unreached in rural areas.

        Can We Improve Public Extension Services Using Corporate Social Responsibility Funds?

         Can CSR Funds Strengthen Indian Livestock Sector?


      Livestock Farmers’ Perception on Animal Husbandry Services Rendered Under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

      Seizing and scaling Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Improving  Public Extension Services

    • Truly,Integration of science and evidence into effective agrifood system decision-making processes remains a significant challenge. For example, Natural Farming is currently being promoted in a  big way in India. The conventional researchers are busy doing research in chemical soil health & fertility boosters, plant protectants including developing resistence, while decision makers want large scale adoption of natural farming accepting it as one effective measure to tackle many issues concerning soil & plant health affected by chemicals. The researchers by and large due to their qualifications & training may not be comfortable with idea of natural farming but decisions flowing from top decision making bodies.The Government has re-adopted the Indian Natural Farming System for Agriculture, since Natural Farming System is an ancient technique used by farmers for farming and at that time people also knew how to live in harmony with the nature. India is one of the leading producer of organic products & exports, with number one position in the world in terms of the number of producers, since organic production, standards, guidelines and bioinputs are available so comparatively it is easier for farmers to adopt it. The organic farming got a boost in India primarily due to growing demand for organic products in importaining countries in EU & other developed countries. In case of natural farming, the standards, guidelines, certification mechanism will have to be developed so that small scale farmers are able to benefit from natural farming. Several Indian states are working on promoting natural farming. Hope the field trials on natural farming, if taken up, may generate evidence that it is a practical and proven way of sustainable farming-good for farmers, consumers & environment on the whole!

      As per the recent statement from the government, during the last year, an additional area of 4.78 lakh hectares has been brought under natural farming in 17 States. To promote natural farming, the Indian government has approved the National Mission on Natural Farming as a separate scheme with an expenditure of INR 1,584 crores. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and all Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), Central and State Agricultural Universities and Colleges are making all-round efforts to promote natural farming. May be this decision of the Indian government to promote natural farming helps in long run towards improving health of soils, plants, animals & human including safer environment which is getting polluted due to use of agrochemicals.

    • Apart from laboratory based hard core research on nutrition values, systematic studies done by interdisciplinary team involving food scientists, economists, public health experts can monitor developmental inteventions to bring out evidence to extend, for instance, the nutrition programmes like Mid Day Meals in schools. Currently, eggs are served in mid-day meals in 13 states and three Union Territories in India as part of “additional food items”. There is “clear evidence of significant improvement” in the growth of children who are given eggs as part of mid-day meals, with girls in Class 8 gaining up to 71% more weight than their peers who were not served eggs, as per a study commissioned by the Karnataka government covering over 4,500 students in two districts. With this clear evidence on benefits of eggs, still it may not be extended in many other Indian states for the reasons other than the evidence. So, at times, even if evidence is there, likelihood of policy being framed in line with the evidence may not be seen.…

    • While reading the background note prepared for this consultation, I appreciate the observations made, in particular following two:

       1.  Single disciplines on their own are not able to address systemic challenges in a holistic manner &

       2. Policymakers may not inform scientists and other knowledge holders about their needs while scientists and other knowledge holders may not actively engage in the policy-making process. Additionally, many obstacles may compromise this participation.

      Let us accept, many scientists including me have little understanding of how agri-food systems policy is enacted at national, regional or international levels. Many papers published by scientists in their respective disciplines are used mostly by subsequent researchers just as review material not as an input for policy making. Many scientists engaged in livestock research, particularly those responsible for Animal Sourced Foods (ASFs)) repeatedly come out with findings in support of the importance of consuming ASFs for human health and well being. Yet, whatever the scientific evidence may say, policy makers may opt to ignore the evidence on ethical or ideological grounds. For instance, it has been observed that meat products are discouraged or even banned in the menus in public canteens, in disregard of the fact that apart from its role in human health & well being, animal husbandry plays an important role in culture, societal well-being, food security, and the provision of livelihoods in developing countries in particular. There can be several reasons to justify discouragement to ASF consumption, but how to balance human health needs with that of other considerations. The scientists of a specific disciplines may not be sufficient enough to address this issue- role of ASF in sustainable human diets vis-a vis environmental & ethical implications of animal production. The vegan movement globally is getting stronger, risking decision making based on ethical and unsubstantiated reasons than on logical grounds by the policy makers.

      I contributed some blogs, which again don’t take other implications of animal production, but only human health & well being:

      Can Consumer-Centric Extension (CCE) Boost Animal-Sourced Food (ASF) Consumption?

      Consuming Animal Sourced Foods (ASFs) is a must for a healthy living, so let’s improve animal production!

      The researchers often work in isolation within the confines of their respective disciplines, so generally have compartmentalized thinking. They continue to be confined to their respective disciplines to be focused and excel publishing in their respective subjects than having broader outlook by taking up work in inter- disciplinary modes. There has been encouragement for interdisciplinary work but it seems it will take a long time for scientists to accept the importance of interdicsiplinary work and  have good connect with policy making bodies and decisions. This consultation, I see a good opportunity to sensitize the scientific community how they can contribute even more meaningfully by being able to be heard by policy making bodies.

      Looking for your feedback!

      Mahesh Chander

    • Hello,

      I am Principal Scientist (Agricultural Extension), working with Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

      I consider this discussion interesting, important and exciting because it gives an opportunity to scientists to speak up, who often feel that there is a disconnect between work they are doing and policies being framed, decision being made. Work goes on in laboratories, often have no relevance to field applications due to poor linkages between research systems & consumers.

      Looking forward to hearing experiences coming form diverse situations from across the world!

      Happy & exciting discussion!

      Mahesh Chander

    • We all agree, advancing gender equality and women's and girls' empowerment is critical for ending hunger and ensuring food security and nutrition for all towards achieving 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It makes it imperative that the individuals and institutions responsible for education, research and training in agricultural & food sector are sufficiently sensitized on importance of gender equality. We need to have programmes to accredit education, research and training institutions for gender equality eco-systems prevailing in these institutions so that they can spread the message what it means to be gender sensitive in matters of education and capacity building. We are currently implementing one such programme GATI (Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions). The GATI model draws inspiration from the Athena SWAN Gender Equality Charter and accreditation framework operated by Advance HE, UK. A growing number of universities, science departments and research institutes in UK have voluntarily joined the charter and been recognized for their accomplishments. Recognizing the framework’s evidence-based approach to analysis, action and demonstrable impact, several countries have been inspired to join the Athena SWAN collaborative international network and launch similar initiatives. With the launch of GATI, India too joins the list. GATI aspires to create an enabling environment for equal participation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics disciplines (STEMM) at all levels, addressing deep-rooted problems. It envisages a fresh perspective on not just measures for increasing retention and recruitment but the progression of women throughout their professional journey.

      I believe, the programmes like GATI have potential to make strong impact on food security & nutrition, so must find encouragement from the policy makers and the governments in developing countries in particular.

      My blog on GATI:…

      My institutional link:


    • Can you share examples on how the bottlenecks listed in the policy brief have been addressed and with which result?

      To handle the bottlenecks, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) issued state specific guidelines about harvesting and threshing of rabi (Summer season) crops along with the advisories on handling post-harvest operations like storage and marketing of the farm produce more efficiently. Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), the outreach arms of ICAR, tapped full potential of different Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools to address farm challenges during the lockdown and supported farmers and farm women. The Division of Agricultural Extension, ICAR, has documented & published selected successful interventions by the KVKs & innovative practices being followed by farmers nationwide, which proved quite helpful to the farmers in combating the adverse effects of COVID-19 lockdown. The compilation entitled “Innovative Agri - solutions during COVID-19” in the form of an e-book could be useful to motivate many others to think creative workable solutions to the problems arising due to Covid-19 like situations.This e-book includes more than 100 selected experiences from every part of India.…


      Mahesh Chander

    • Are there any additional areas not yet included in the brief that warrant particular attention with regard to logistics affecting the food supply chain?  

      The Covid-19 lockdown opened the oppoertunity for trying something new which could be new normal post covid. There could be some discussion on new initiatives which were thought  of and tried by different organizations. For instance, we started in a very limited way, a programme: HARVEST YOUR OWN VEGETABLES, wherein, we asked consumers to harvest their requirement  of vegetables from the farm (… ). Likewise, there were several initiatives taken by communities and Farmer Producer Organizations which came to the rescue of farmers by channeling their farm produce to consumers. The government allowed farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers by amending the APMC act which was restrictive previously (…). Some FPOs used apps for uninterpreted vegetable supply during lock down (… ). Many ideas cropped up to ease of marketing of farm products (… ).


      Mahesh chander

    • How have logistics from the national to the local level been impacted by the pandemic and response measures?

      1.When the wheat harvesting season was approaching in April, farmers faced problems of non availability of harvesters and labourers even though restrictions on farming operations were lifted by the government. In most of the Northern Indian states, farmers hire harvesters from Punjab, but initially there was relectance on the part of operators to lend harvesters, coupled with labour shaortages harvesting was delayed. With persuations, advisories and confidence building measures taken by government, harvesting could be done, minimizing th eloss to great extent.

      2. Seeds, plant protectants, fertilizers all were exempted from restrictions but the stockists were reluctant in opening their shops/stores, which initially affected the farmers.

    • Hi all,Flowers are no food, but grown by farmers, used by all of us.With temples closed, weddings postponed, and other ceremonies and celebrations stopped, the Indian fresh flower industry was worst hit - who would buy flowers and why? The flower farmers are devastated watching flowers rotting on the farms and causing huge losses. Is there solution to this?

      Farmers’ problems were further aggravated by rumours spread via Social Media channels particularly Whatsapp, linking animal products consumption to Covid-19, which was unfounded and baseless. Minister of Agriculture  & other higher officials issued statements in Media that chicken & meat are safe for consumption showing up photos & videos eating these items.


      Mahesh Chander



    • Hello all,

      Covid-19 Pandemic & lockdown has been an unpredented experience for most of us, the measures required were extraordinary too. The Government of India came up with advisories, guidelines to lessen miseries & easing farming operations. The Government order in this regard explains the measures taken in India.…

      My following blogs on Covid-19 lockdown in context of Extension & Advisory services expalin the various measures taken or could have been helpful.………

      Looking forward to learn more about the covind handling via guiding questions marked for this discussion.


      Mahesh Chander

      Principal Scientist, Agricultural Exension

      ICAR- Indian Veterinary Research Institute

    • Do you think that the roles identified for the Digital Council are suitable for facing the food systems challenges outlined above?

      Will the Digital Council work in collaboration or in convergence mode with the structures already in place in different countries? Often it would mean working on its own, irrespective of the work whatever little or more being done by the country governments. Also, sometime local structures become defunct when external agencies start doing work in the concerned area. The Proposed information for the concept note presented in tabular form indicates that the council would regulate most of the activities in food systems digital space. Often it may be the case, some countries are already doing some good work, in fact could be some lessons for the council too. Many a time the existing frameworks get disrupted even when doing well due to the external interventions being powerful in terms of money and influence. Hope the digital council will ensure nurturing the good practices and learn the lessons too!

    • Trust of information

      The digital platforms are mushrooming in developing countries, each claiming authentic and reliable information to actors of the agri-tech value chain starting from the farmers, processors, retailers and consumers. Such multiplicity of digital platforms present issues of trust of the information source which make information available, as well as on the quality of the information provided. Many input suppliers for instance, may be misleading the farmers by exaggerating the potential of inputs or technology. How this is going to be regulated? Will the council come out with mechanisms to regulate information flow from digital platforms? It is also linked with the availability as also the quality of data, which affect the decisions at different levels. In developing countries, this is one of the serious limiting factors that often data are not correct. How the council will tackle this.

      I believe, there is need of more webinars, regional consultations, workshops and face to face meeting before the digital council start functioning.

    • This is welcome step, considering the rapidly changing agricultural landscape. The older generation in developing countries may not find it much useful but the youth may find it attractive option to get constructively engaged in agriculture since already they are using too much of  Social Media, for fun. Unless agriculture is data driven, it is simply a way of life where profit is not taken into account. Unless we do farming as business, we are not likely to benefit from it. We need more agripreenurs than simply the farmers. For this to happen, digitalization is a must. We need to take into consideration-access, avaialbility, afforadability and content updating in digital arena. The concept note prepared has mentioned about this but at the level of implemetation, monitoring would be required to ensure inclusiveness.

    • In fact, there shouldn't be anything like food waste, if we know turning it into animal fed, manure or other uses !

      Residue of lot many fruits and vegetables could be turned into silage to supplement animal feed. For instance, pineapple fruit silage could be excellent fodder source for livestock. We should docuement all possible uses of grains, fruits, vegetables & other edibles, how best we can make use of them under different circumstances.

    • Dear all,

      In  India, over 85% of the small holders own less than 1 ha land, which is further getting fragmented due to division in the family particularly among brothers. This makes mechanization difficult along with problems in Connecting Smallholders to Markets. Moreover, many landless livestock keepers contribute milk, meat & eggs- supplying much needed Animal sourced foods-protein & other micronutrients essntial for human health & well being. Can we think of Collective farming, farmer producer organizations to remedy the situation & making agriculture profitable to small holders. I know collective farming is easier to say but difficult to put into practice, unless there is lot of common sense among the stakeholders. We also have problems of small landholding scattered here & there, not at one place, making farming even more stressful. Land consolidation may resolve this, but again it is a teething problem. These are some of the basic issues, if we could resolve them, we can expect contributing to sustainability of small farms.


      Mahesh Chander

    • Hello everyone,

      It’s about, Set 3: Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security and Nutrition: What Roles for Livestock?

      Livestock production is important from the point of view of human health, employment and livelihoods, yet questioned by some mostly in environmental implications context. It’s mostly the management issue-how we are keeping the livestock in terms of numbers, production efficiency, feeding regime (competition with humans for feed) etc. The integrated systems could be more resilient, where livestock could be maintained as per the carrying capacity of the land holdings with the farmers. The Extension and Advisory services can design extension strategies around food systems towards ensuring the availability of required amount of animal sourced protein. We need 20gm animal sourced protein/per day which means everyone needs 33 kg lean meat / 45 kg fish / 60kg eggs or 230 kg milk/year. Many countries around the world are having far less consumption from this required levels. This leads to human population suffering from micro- nutrients related deficiency diseases stunting, wasting, anaemia, cognitive problems etc. In India, for instance, Over 70% pre-school children  consume less than 50% of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of iron, vitamin A, and some B vitamins particularly riboflavin and folic acid. Many of these nutritional deficiencies can be overcome, if livestock products like milk, meat, pork, fish and eggs are included in human diets in required quantities. Livestock production offers multiple benefits like improved nutrition, health, incomes, and livelihoods. Yet the potential of livestock production is underexploited in many developing countries. While the research can help improve livestock productivity, the extension and outreach activities can deliver research outcomes to producers leading to improved livestock productivity. But Research-extension- farmer linkages are weak in these countries. So, we need to design extension interventions that include promoting crop-livestock integrated farming systems, fodder cultivation, promoting livestock entrepreneurship, mentoring rural youths, and organizing capacity building programmes including for farm women. The productivity enhancing livestock technologies, when shared with the livestock owners via targeted extension services can improve their production practices for green fodder, milk, meat, fish and egg production.

      The questions we need to answer, how best we can ensure the required quantity of ASF to growing human population, with least implications to environment?

      You may like to read my blog:

      Looking forward to hear more from the participants?

    • This document cover well many topics of contemporary interest.

      What future for animal-based foods vs lab grown meat for instance; bio fortification, hydroponics, millets, chemical & antibiotic free food stuffs, foods replaced by food supplements? Implications of these innovations on food production systems and family farmers.

      Should they look for livelihood alternatives giving up farming?

    • Per person per year egg consumption in India is just only 66 eggs, with huge regional variations. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh it is only 10 eggs. While in neighboring China, it is 300 eggs/head/year. Appreciably, the National Institute of Nutrition- an institution under Indian Council of Medical Research has recommended and made the provision of eggs compulsory in mid-day meals, being cheaper, safer, more nutritious and easier to procure than alternatives such as milk or bananas. In spite of recommendation coming from such a high level institution, it has not yet been implemented in many states. In the matters of health, people, institutions and government must rise above social and religious considerations, if any. The National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) has made efforts in India to boost egg consumption among public in general and school children in particular. Such efforts need support from public and institutions. The celebrating World Egg Day on the second Friday in October each year is one good way of boosting egg consumption. The institutions concerned with livestock and poultry research and production should shoulder the responsibility of promoting egg consumption. The private sector especially the poultry industry can play larger role by launching egg promotional campaigns, possibly by including this in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) schemes. There are huge opportunities in poultry sector in India, if we could promote egg consumption from the current low level to higher levels.

      Hoping for the best !


    • On the question, what approaches have proved successful to address deeply rooted gender norms, power relations and social institutions? 

      Quoting from an interesting article, "A field of her own:Advancing rights of women farmers can revolutionise the rural ecosystem, by Tarini Mohan (… ), the chance of propertied women being physically abused is reduced from 49 per cent to 7 per cent due to an increase in the wife’s bargaining power. But, as many as 87 per cent of women do not own their land; only 12.7 per cent of them do. Moreover, despite their hard labour in the field, women are not officially counted as farmers, and are either labelled “agricultural labourers” or “cultivators”. This is because the government does not recognise them as farmers those who do not have a claim to land under their name in official records.

      Some key points taken from this article may lead to successful approaches to address deeply rooted gender norms, power relations and social institutions:

      1.Providing women with access to secure land is key to incentivising the majority of India’s women farmers.

      2.With security of tenure, female farmers should be provided with the three critical driving factors — the incentive, the security, as well as the opportunity — to invest in the land they harvest.

      3. The government should not label women merely as “agricultural labourers” or “cultivators” but recognise them as farmers even if they do not have a claim to land under their name in official records. We need to change the stereotypical image of an Indian farmer- a mustachioed man, clad in a white dhoti with farming tools in hand. Women in India constitute close to 65 per cent of all agricultural workers as also,  74 per cent of the rural workforce, is female.

      Finally, we need to create a new image of farmer, which is women inclusive!


    • Hello everyone,

      Movies can and should play powerful role in woem empowerment- sharing here the case of recent Hindi movie-DANGAL.

      In 2016, movie DANGAL by Aamir Khan was released in India, which is a story of two sisters groomed by their father as wrestlers. He basically wanted boys not girls as usual in Indian society, but he thought otherwise later and focused on his daughters to turn them worldclass wrestlers. It is impactful movie like a game changer in bringing sea change in the mind set in the traditional societies where focus of family is mostly on male child, be it feeding, schooling or career, while for girls- their marriage is the only goal. After watching DANGAL, Men and women were equally appreciative of the approach of the film to bring about change in thinking on gender issue especially the craving for male child that girls too can do what boys do. The famous dialogue or punch line in this movie, “Maari chhoriyan chhoron se kam hai ke” meaning- "Are my girls any less than boys?" itself has the biggest transformative impact in thinking of Man.

      Here are some links which indicate the potential of movies in bringing about change in mind set towards gender transformative impacts.………

      Thanks, it is stimulating to participate in the discussion.


    • About the question, what can be done?

      Will it help in gender equality, if Gender sensitization is included in school curriculum ?

      I am sharing here information about a recent Campaign in India, to MAKE GENDER SENSITISATION COMPULSORY IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM. The proponents of this campaign say, “In our tradition-bound society, certain attitudinal change and change in the mindset is needed to respect women and to ensure gender justice. Right from childhood years, children ought to be sensitized to respect women. A child should be taught to respect women in the same way he is taught to respect men. Gender equality should be made a part of the school curriculum. School teachers and parents should be trained, not only to conduct regular personality-building and skill-enhancing exercises, but also to keep a watch on the actual behavioural patterns of the children so as to make them gender sensitized.”

      Read more about this campaign:

    • Women need to begin with family support and encouragement, skilling/training followed by handholding and linking with markets to channel the products made by them, be it food stuffs/pickles, textiles or garments/ handicrafts. In India, sewing garments offers good potential to rural women, where they can work in groups and enjoy the work and earning. But this to happen successfully they need all kinds of support which must come to them by international, national or local agencies like Rural Banks. I was impressed to read this blog from The World Bank, Stitching Dreams: In Tamil Nadu, Rural Women Show the Way to Start Up India (…). The collective actions by agricultural and rural development agenices including the banks may help bring the gender transformative impact. Also,  It is worth to mention the role of microcredit for rural women, considering the transformative impact of Yunus's Grammen Bank on women  in Bangladesh. Apart from economics or financial gains, Socially, small loans from Yunus’s Grameen Bank have also proven transformative. women Borrowers from poorer segments are required to go to a weekly meeting where they meet with 30 to 40 other women. At these meetings, they not only make repayments on their loans but also make new friends, get support for their small businesses and learn how to speak up for themselves. They agree to abide by Grameen’s “Sixteen Decisions” that include making dramatic lifestyle changes such as building a latrine, growing more vegetables, keeping their families small and sending their children to school. While these are impossible goals for many women to accomplish completely, they provide a vision of a better life and a pathway (… ).

       The programmes which offer opportunities of more development oriented interactions among women like the cases mentioned above may have grater transformative impact on women, while showing them the way of independent thinking and entrepreneurship.


    • The Societal norms sometime are big hurdles in achieving transformative impacts. Look for instance some norms in parts of India's rural areas:

      1. Women will take food only when men have finished their meals. A wife is expected to eat only when husband has finished food. Generally, women are left with little food especially vegetables and better part of food cooked has already been eaten by males. Women mostly cook food and they are the last one to eat it.

      2. Holding a baby in lap, feeding babies/baby sitting are considered unmanly in some societies/communities in parts of India.

      3. Wife can not walk by the side of her husband, she has to walk a little behind. This conveys a lot about the prevailing mind-set which has many ramifications.

      These are just a few of the social norms but speaks volume on gender relations in societies. Women are not allowed education after certain level and also, they can not go for jobs even if they are capable to take. Women running business is a distant dream in such societies. India has progressed a lot, there are many schemes and programmes and reservations for women at different levels to empower them. The societal norms mentioned above are getting weakened with passing time yet the progress in gender transformative impacts is slow due to these norms.

      Recently we organized a Rural Youth Mentoring Programme (…;) to attract and retain youth in agriculture. We found it difficult to make it gender balanced since parents were reluctant to send their daughters  to mentoring programme, while boys had no such problem. In many other similar capacity building programmes, boys/men freely participate while women are left out not by choice but by familial pressure or circumstances. From here itself difference arise as women miss the opportunities, which otherwise could have equipped them with awareness, knowledge and skills to take up productive entrepreneurial tasks. We plan now, in coming months, to motivate parents to send their daughters to mentoring programmes, may be we have to work more in our efforts to motivate parents. The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs) in India organize a large number of training programmes for men women, youth on various aspects of agriculture and value addition, here too often they face problems in ensuring participation of women. Women are not able to particpate full time due to their familiy responsibiliites, while men are not affected on this count. Its a matter again of unequal opportunities which can be corrected with suitable family level couunselling of all family members that men & women alike need training for better outcome of efforts.




    • Starting from no or little encouragement from families, improper policies, unequal opportunities, lack of literacy, education,  lack of skilling programmes for women and lack of finanacial support, most of the women are trapped in a life of food insecurity and poverty, while only a few rural women manage to move forward and become successful entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurship programmes are focussed mostly on men, while women find them engaged in menial jobs having no potential to turn them into entrepreneurs. The formal participation of women in development oriented meetings are also very limited. Women need- skilling, more formal participation, policies favouring their enhanced role in developmental activities, programmes. From the early age they need mentoring for entrepreneurship and importance of being independent to be able to stand on their own.May be  in schools courses are  introduced to mentor them on economic independence and value of income generating skills to earn one's  own livelihood. The families need also programmes to motivate them to encourgage female members of the households to acquire skills to earn income and have finanacial independence to reduce burden on families. The Finanacial institution should come forward to support skilling programmes for women and helping in setting up ventures by women since women often lack colletrals land titles being not in their names. I find women Dairy Cooperative programme of NDDB in India as one wonderful initiative ( owards empowering women. Likewise, we need programmes to skill, support, handhold rural women so that they can stand on their own through economic activity undertaken by them. I had once an opportunity to evalauate Women Dairy Cooperatives established under the programme, "Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP)" of Ministry of women & Child Development in India ( I found it very beneficial for women who could learn skills and empower themselves finanacially and socially. Such programmes implemented in the right spirit can be the real game changer.

    • Apart from Education, technologies like ICTs have big role in gender transformative impacts. The growing number of smart phones in rural areas in India including with girls ( though far less compared  with boys) is the game changer (… ).The number of Internet users in India was  expected to reach 450-465 million by June'2017, up 4-8% from 432 million in December 2016 (… ). The socialnetworking via social media channels like Facebook and Whatsapp are influencing men and women, challenging the established patterns and disruptive too, making women more assertive about their roles, needs etc. The exploitative social norms are being challanged by women making men uncomfortable at times. These tools are likely to bring homogneiety in the society in long run since both men and women will understand what  is good for whole family.

      Well planned use of ICTs can bring faster transformative impact in developing societies.……………

      Smartphones are helping rural women get better at business.……

    • Is our understanding of the challenges rural women and girls are facing still up-to-date?

      There is a saying, if you are able to diagnose the problem, half the problem is solved. We have to think, are we solving the right problem? On the gender transformative front, it seems to be true that we are not designing our interventions towards attaining early transformative impacts. Gender roles for instance, continue  as tradition in many societies. Cattleshed cleaning, feeding cattle, collecting grass/fodder for livestock and fuledwood collection by women are some invisible works where women predominantly engaged since very long and there  is little shift in this primarily due to mindset even of women that they feel it is fine that not men but women doing these menial tasks. This will continue for long unless women are encourgaged for higher education. Once educated, women may not like to do these menial tasks but look for more productive engagement. Whatever developmental interventions are made to shift in these roles for transformative impact, it won't change the scenario much unless efforts are made to tackle the root cause i. e poor educational level of women mostly in poor and developing countries. The education is the key which will empower women that they will look for their roles in skilled work. In some cultures, women would not like to see their men doing certin tasks like cleaning of house and utensils, cooking food or baby sitting! It is very fundamental that women and men must think that there is no difference whether men is doing or women is doing the task - work is work whether men do it or women do unless specific skills needed which either men or women can do it well due to some kind of uniqueness.

      Looking forward to interesting and stimulating contributions from diverse world!

    • Closing comment

      Equal access to resources, services & employment for women farmers worldwide can increase farm yields up to 30%, so is true with gender equality and improved nutrition. The AEAS should set their goals to meet gender equality in its functioning then see the outcome in any aspect including nutrition. #genderequality #UNFAO40

      It was stimulating & learning experience to join this discussion. Thank you!

    • AEAS should change their focus from always selecting head of the households (usually eldest male member of the family) to women members of family as contact to share information.

      In meetings & training programmes, women participation may be ensured at least 50 per cent, Husbands may be asked to accompany their wives to meetings & training on agricultural issues.

      Whole family approach may be followed in imparting training on nutrition, since all members of the family should understand the importance of nutrition.

      Women based Self Help Groups (SHGs) may be formed, supported and engaged in nutrition education

      Small animal rearing, backyard poultry keeping by women play important role in household nutritional security and small savings. The AEAS can technically empower women on small scale livestock and poultry rearing.

      Young women can be targeted to expose them to agripreneurial ventures on value addition and food processing activities, wherein, they not only ensure better nutrition but also get the opportunity to generate some income.

      The AEAS should promote e-literacy/Digital literacy among women, ICT tools including smartphones can be a good tools to empower women on nutrition aspects because women find a friend in smartphones.

    • As part of my duties, we have to conduct training programmes, Model courses for farmers as well as for the field functionaries/trainers. It is common to see, these programmes are dominated by males. However, in one of the recent Model training courses for Field Veterinarians, we found 4-5 women vets coming from a single state, Kerala. I asked the reason that only women nominated from the state, while mostly male vets travel to distances for these trainings. They shared that they themselves took the lead this time and got themselves nominated for the training and the department was also supportive on the matter. My idea of narrating this is to highlight women themselves will have to take lead surpassing their limitations as the programmes and schemes alone may not be helpful. The AEAS often find it handy to handle male participants as with women there are several domestic commitments as narrated well  here,…

      Its a question of mindset, unless specifically called for, the AEAS personnel don't make efforts to ensure women participation. To start with, the AEAS personnel may be incentivized for encouraging women to participate in capacity  building programmes, skill trainings. Women extension agents could be better suited to engage to serve women farmers. In case of dairy Cooperatives, we saw, women supervisors were appointed in Rajasthan as elsewhere too  in India, especially in All women dairy Cooperatives. These women supervisors could interact well with women compared to their male counterparts. Often we saw them chatting with rural women right inside their kitchens, where, they were able to discuss many of their problems with the comparatively aware supervisors. Women have manifold questions to seek answers for, beyond farm too and often they don't have channels to seek answers to these queries. These women supervisors mingle well with rural women and able to advise them on matters concerned with including their health, thrifts, children's education etc. The Home science graduates including those qualified in Food and Nutrition having good knowledge of nutrition in general and nutrition for women and children in particular could be roped in as extension agents to educate rural women on importance of good nutrition, while linking it with nutrition sensitive agricultural production practices.

    • Many of us would agree that youth are important, they need to be empowered to be decisive on agricultural matters, but there are constraints in doing so. For example, in India,

      i. they don't own land. The AEAS contact those who are the owners of land even when they are not engaged themselves in agricultural operations.  The AEAS should approach those who are actually working in the field, so that they can help influence the decisions of the owners of land.

      ii. Financial institutions ignore youth for the want of collateral: May be youth have wonderful new ideas but can't implement for the want of money. The AEAS can organize youth competitions for scouting the innovative ideas to be implemented to improve agricultural practice including improving household nutrition.

      iii. Youth are not invited in the meetings organized for agricultural and rural development issues. It is the elderly males who often participate in these meetings. The AEAS must ensure meeting to be age and gender balanced for effective meeting outcomes.

      iv. The AEAS must pay attention to Social Media usage in farm sector like WhatsApp, Facebook etc as these media attract youth more than the elderly. The youth including females would be able to influence each other while sharing useful information via social Media.

      v. Youth are more closer to information and communication technologies including Social Media they can better fit to connect farmers to markets, reducing transaction costs, and raising food system efficiencies. Young people should be engaged more in agricultural value chains, and AEAS should focus more on value chain extension than only giving production advice. It's the question of farm profitability not only the farm productivity, which can be understood better by youth than the older generations who have mindset of more production of traditional crops than having focus on profitability or we can say commercial orientation to farming than taking it as a way of life.

      The AEAS has to change its mindset to meet the emerging requirements of new capacities, new demands and how to cater to these new requirements using innovative extension methodologies. The link between agriculture and nutrition is certainly the new requirement which needs to be met with new ways than the conventional approaches.

    • AEAS can effectively promote gender equality by enhancing their role in Producer Organizations (POs), Self Help Groups (SHGs), Dairy Cooperatives. In India, women dairy cooperatives and SHGs are some good examples where women could participate and develop confidence by engaging themselves in economic activities. The AEAS can think of making women aware about the role of POs, Cooperatives and  SHGs in empowering them.…

      Taking a thread from Edye Kuyper's  comment on role of youth vis a vis AEAS, I am encouraged to share my blog posts at YPARD & AESA which speak how AEAS can engage more with youth - who are the future farmers. When we say youth, we should mean both men & women - normally in farming context in developing countries like India, often we relate only men with farming. This mindset has its manifestations at different levels and AEAS are no exception who often approach elderly male of the households to share information and services.

      1. The Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) shouldn’t ignore youth, anymore!…

      2. Mentoring rural youth to make agriculture attractive.…

      3. 15 July: It’s WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY Today.…

      4. Youth: Potential Target For Agricultural Extension.…

      When youth are targeted by AEAS for changing the mindset including for the issues like gender equality and improved nutrition dividends are likely to be more!

    • India’s agricultural sector formally employs 80 to 100 million women (32.8% women against 81.1% men), since a big majority of women remain invisible farm worker preparing the land, selecting seeds, preparing and sowing to transplanting the seedlings, applying manure/fertilizers/pesticides and then harvesting, winnowing and threshing, women work harder and longer than male farmers. Women are more engaged and mostly informally in the sub- sectors like animal husbandry, fisheries and vegetable cultivation which almost solely survive on women. But we don’t see many women in training or capacity building programmes, bank loans, farmers’ educational visits, farm exhibitions unless these programmes are meant or mandated exclusively for women farmers. Though of late in India, women focused extension training programmes are being emphasized but when these are common for men and women, it is men who prefer to attend meetings & trainings etc. themselves than sending women from the households. In our study, we found the information level of women in animal husbandry remains low as their access to information sources, mass media, visits to credit, veterinary and input related institutions remain limited. Significant differences in information level of women and men livestock owners were observed even though the participation of women in livestock training programmes is on the rise. Suitable efforts are needed in modification of mode of training, content and training methodologies owing to differential training requirements of women farmers.

      It’s due to poor formal participation of women in programmes organized by formal institutions, they miss the opportunity to improve not only their awareness, knowledge and skill base in farming  but also lack the opportunities to know about improved nutritional practices for better health of them and their families. Many reports have suggested women in India are anemic and have associated problems arising out of malnutrition. Further, mother’s education, according to the NFHS, is highly correlated with the level of malnutrition among children. Children of illiterate mothers are twice as likely to be undernourished or stunted as children whose mothers have completed at least high school. The differentials are even larger when severely undernourished children are considered. Children of illiterate mothers are three times as likely to be severely undernourished as children of mothers with at least a high school education. The Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services in India have to take note of this neglected dimension in their strategies. It is equally important to skill farm women on agricultural practices and their nutrition needs as well.…