In India, livestock rearing is a subsidiary enterprise for many rural households for generating additional income along with crop production. Being a predominantly agriculture economy, India has the largest livestock population in the world. Presently, the livestock sector accounts for about 21% of the values of output of the combined crops and livestock sectors.
Women’s role in livestock keeping is an old age tradition and play a major role for rearing animals as much of the work of livestock management is carried out by women. However, the development, extension and training programmes are generally much less for involvement of women and for extending the benefit to them.
In Indian economy, farm business including animal husbandry (AH) has been family enterprise in which male and female share both work and wages. Their roles are complementary, not only in physical participation at farm and home-related activities, but also in respect of decision making process concerning such activities.
Role of males is dominant and authoritative while that of women is subtle and persuasive. Outwardly, decision making is the prerogative of male head of the farm family, but any such decision taken is strongly influenced by the attitude and opinion of the female partner.
An example of block contribution of women in animal husbandly in Milkipur of Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh has been presented under the following headings:
1. The socio-economic profile of the respondents.
2. The extent of involvement of gender in animal husbandry enterprise.
3. Problem of gender regarding their involvement in AH practices.
For this purpose, the scale suggested by Kanwar and Kharde (1994) was used with some modifications.
Socio-Economic Profile of the Respondents:
The mean age of the respondents was noted to be 43.35 years with literacy percentage of 26. About half of them belonged to scheduled caste category. Agriculture was the main occupation of maximum families of respondents having marginal land with an average of 1.28 acres.
More than 50% were found residing in nuclear families having 6 to 10 members in their families with a mean of 7.72 members. Almost nil participation was observed in social organizations. The material possession was observed of medium level. Majority of respondents had herd size of 1.2 to 5. The mean score of socio-economic status (SES) was found to be 39.74. Social mobility was very low. The medium level economic motivation was observed with 24.99 mean of scores.
Overall Extent of Involvement in Animal Husbandry Practices:
Table 14.1 indicates that more percentage of females was observed performing daily practices either actual doing or supervision while in occasional practices in which more involvement of males was observed. In decision making about animal husbandry practices, the involvement of males was more in comparison to females.
Practice-Wise Extent of Involvement in Animal Husbandry Practices:
As far as practice-wise role performance by the males and females was concerned (Table 14.2), the maximum percentage of involvement of males in actual doing (daily practices) was found in case of ‘chaffing of fodder’, ‘tieing and untieing the animals’, ‘milking’, ‘selling of milk’ and ‘grazing the animals’. But, in other practices, females were found to be dominated for performing them.
In case of occasional practices ‘feeding of calves’ and ‘care of neonatal calves’ were observed dominantly performed by the females’ while other practices like ‘care of animals at calving’, ‘after calving’, ‘taking sick animals to veterinary dispensary, etc. predominately performed by the males. The overall degree of role performance by males was found to be 44% in case of daily practices whereas; by females it was 55% and 50% for occasional practices. Almost similar pattern was observed in case of supervision of daily practices as well as occasional practices.
Involvement in Decision-Making about Animal Husbandry Practices:
Table 14.3 shows the involvement of males and females in decision-making regarding animal husbandry practices to be adopted by them. The males were found dominant in most of the management practices except ‘care and feeding of livestock’ and ‘responsibility for cleaning of animal sheds’. The overall involvement of males and females in decision making was observed to be 58.30% and 41.70%, respectively.
Problems of Gender Regarding Involvement in Animal Husbandry Practices:
The problems relating to involvement in animal husbandry (AH) practices as perceived by the respondents have been assessed and given in the Table 14.4 according to the ranks mentioned against each problem in descending orders.
Problems of Gender Regarding Decision-Making about Animal Husbandry Practices:
In the same way, the problems relating to decision-making about AH practices have been mentioned in the Table 14.5 according to the ranks mentioned against each problem in descending orders.
On the basis of above data, it may be concluded that more percentage of females was observed performing daily practices either actual doing or supervision but in occasional practices males were dominant. In decision making, the overall involvement of males was more. Therefore, it can be said that there is scope for women to handle the animal husbandry as family enterprises to enhance the economic condition and well-being of their family.
Some Suggestion based on Findings:
On the basis of results, following suggestions may be made to accelerate the involvement of gender in actual doing, supervision and decision making about animal husbandry practices so that animal husbandry can be established as family enterprise in rural areas:
1. There is a need to devise an educational/vocational training programme especially for women in the society to enhance the technical know-how about animal husbandry enterprise.
2. Importance of self-employment through animal husbandry should be realized and acknowledged by the development personnel and the farmers should be motivated accordingly.
3. The appropriate animal husbandry technologies should be developed for farm women to increase their involvement, if innovated to emancipate women from the drudgery in undertaking animal husbandry operations.
4. The value of money for family survival should be propagated among rural women so that they may be motivated towards animal husbandry enterprise to have more money.
5. There is a need of women oriented development programmes for improving the status of women in rural areas and make them more meaningful member of the society.
6. There is a need to make the menfolk in particular aware with the work load being carried out by women so that they may be more conscious of it and to strike out a balance.
7. The participation of females in the social organization seems very low in comparison to males. Thus, organisational and institutional infrastructure facilities should be created for active participation of females.
8. The females should be provided more opportunities by the males for more involvement in outside activities. The women should get freedom in decision making and supervisory role in their families especially in animal husbandry enterprise. For creating such environment, some of the old conservative cultural values, social customs and systems must give way to modern values and working milieu.