Women in Kerala drive tractors to boost agriculture and self-confidence
When Aniyamma John, 55, was asked to shift the tractor’s forward gear after being properly held by the trainer, a disturbing memory of a driving lesson session two decades ago flashed through his mind. ‘spirit.
After this unexpected incident, in which she tried to shift gears without pressing the clutch, somehow causing the vehicle to jerk, the scared woman not only gave up her driving dreams forever , but also stopped traveling by car or even as a passenger. motorcycling.
But after 22 long years, this farmer-housewife drove for the first time a vehicle, which is also a heavy tractor, earlier this week with confidence in a village in this district of Kerala.
John was one of many women in the southern state to learn the basic lessons of tractor driving, which has so far been seen as a male bastion, under the ambitious “ Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana” (MKSP) from the Center.
The objective of the programme, implemented under the aegis of the block panchayats, is to ensure and strengthen the participation of women in the agricultural sector and to create more job opportunities by providing them with training in agricultural techniques. mechanized farms, authorities said.
Moving the tractor through the sprawling six-acre plot, Aniyamma, affectionately known as “Mini Chechi” by those close to her, said she never imagined she would one day drive the high-powered vehicle on her own and that his happiness and self-confidence knew no bounds now.
”I was solely dependent on auto rickshaws to meet my personal and family needs for all these years as I am not comfortable traveling in other motor vehicles. It was such a surprise, even to myself, that I’m driving a tractor now,” John told PTI.
She and nine other housewives are learning to drive tractors under the guidance of two experts as Mulanthuruthy village panchayat authorities kicked off an eight-day training session on Tuesday.
Soumya, a 35-year-old farmer from the village, said she just became ecstatic after sitting behind the wheel of the tractor and seeing a different view of the world around her for the first time.
”I felt that I had conquered this world. It was happiness and excitement. I take it very seriously now, I am learning to drive a tractor. After the training session, I plan to apply for a license. I decided to learn car driving as soon,” she said.
A fungus expert and skilled beekeeper, Soumya said they plan to put their tractor driving skills to productive use in the coming days by growing different crops on unused land in the village after taking it on lease.
She said the state-run Krishi Bhavan has already agreed to provide the trained women’s group with a tractor if they go ahead with the plan.
“There are several acres of paddy fields under our Krishi Bhavan. The lack of personnel trained in driving tractors is a major problem there. As we have received training on this, this problem is now solved,” the farmer said.
She also said that although a total of ten women are learning to drive through the program, more housewives are likely to join soon, as several people have already expressed interest in it.
Although the training was scheduled for 8 days, the instructors told them that it could be extended for up to two additional days to perfect their driving skills.
Stating that the current training is to use the tractor to prepare uncultivated land for farming, the women said they could confidently enter mechanized farming after receiving practical lessons in plowing a paddy field.
They also said that they received all the support from their family members and friends in the new mission.
Beyond breaking any shield of glass, the passion for agriculture prompted all participants to learn how to drive tractors in the village, the women added.
Panchayat block chairman Raju P Nair said that under the MKSP program, training has been provided to women in various skills including climbing coconut trees, drip irrigation etc. in addition to tractor driving lessons.
After completing the training session, these women, as a group, should start farming in unused properties, he said.
”The panchayat will support women farmers’ groups in their further initiatives. They can directly reap all the benefits from these agricultural efforts on their own,” he said.
Nair said this is the first time that a tractor training session has been held exclusively for women in the panchayat.
A total of 10 women, in the age group between 30 and 60, were now learning how to drive a tractor, he said, adding that if more people expressed interest in joining the class, the session would be prolonged.
Recently another 10 women were trained in tractor driving at Nellikuzhi village panchayat under Kothamangalam block under MKSP.
“We really wanted to learn the nuances of driving a tractor for a while to make a foray into mechanized farming,” said Rahna Nooruddin, one of the learners.
The program will help attract more women into the field of agriculture and generate more employment opportunities in the agricultural sector, she added. A sub-component of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-NRLM (DAY-NRLM), MKSP seeks to improve the current status of women in agriculture and increase the opportunities available to empower them.
The program recognizes the identity of ‘Mahila’ (woman) as ‘Kisan’ (farmer) and works to build women’s capacity in sustainable agro-ecological practices, according to government sources.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)