Becoming a Farmer: Women in Rural West Bengal, India
Raktima Mukhopadhyay, Itishree Pattnaik, and Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Agriculture across India has been witnessing several fundamental shifts, of which the most important are the roles of women and men in agricultural tasks. Among smallholder farmer families, men are increasingly migrating out of agriculture in pursuit of non-farm income opportunities. Women who are left behind assume the roles of de facto ‘heads of household’, taking up tasks in agriculture that they were never prepared for.

Becoming a Farmer charts this ongoing process of agrarian transformation from the perspective of these ‘left-behind’ women in rural West Bengal. As women begin to manage farming tasks in addition to household chores, and expand their responsibilities, do they take charge of their lives and their families’ well-being?

This book records the slow and silent revolution sweeping across India’s countryside through extensive fieldwork carried out in the Dakshin Dinajpur and Bankura districts of West Bengal. It presents a deep analysis of changing gender roles in agriculture across socio-economic groups, including the experiences of tribal and Muslim women in the rural areas, and makes visible women’s contributions to agricultural production.

Raktima Mukhopadhyay is Executive Director, Indian Institute of Bio-Social Research and Development (IBRAD). She has been associated with IBRAD since 1991 under various capacities, including Project Coordinator, Program Officer, and Project Director.

Itishree Pattnaik is Assistant Professor, Gujarat Institute of Development Research. Her major areas of interest include agriculture and sustainable development, inter-state disparities in growth performance, food security and dryland agriculture.

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt is Professor in the Resource, Environment and Development Program, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University (ANU). Before joining the ANU, she was a Reader and Head of Geography department at The University of Burdwan in West Bengal, India.

List of Tables, Figures, and Boxes
List of Abbreviations

  1. Introduction: Women’s Work in Farms
  2. The Rise of Off-Farm Labour and its Consequences
  3. Rural Women in the Agricultural Labour Force in India: A Changing Trend
  4. Agrarian Bengal: A Historical Perspective
  5. Role of Women in the Changing Agriculture Sector in West Bengal
  6. Changing Position of Women in Relation to the Agricultural Production System
  7. Profile of the Survey Areas: Bankura and Dakshin Dinajpur Districts
  8. Selection of the Study Region  
  9. Socioeconomic Characteristics of Female-Headed Households
  10. Recent Changes in the Roles of Women in Agriculture
  11. Risks, Uncertainties, and the Changing Roles of Women at Home and in Society
  12. Multiple Dimensions of Feminised Agriculture in a Pan-Indian Perspective
  13. Conclusion: The Way Forward

Appendix: The Survey Schedule

Release Date : 20-Jan-2023 Venue : Brahmananda Hall, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, Kolkata
Book excerpt | Published in, 17 April 2023.
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