Youth for Action (YFA): Recognising ‘Women’ Farmers for Poverty Alleviation
Youth for Action (YFA) was a reputed organization patronized by Late Shri. Baba Amte. Since last 25 years the organization was working with rural women and men and has brought perceptible change in their lives. YFA was instrumental in increasing the income of rural people (by at least 30-50%), it assisted more than 50,000 families, constructed around 1000 houses, promoted microfinance schemes, addressed the issue of gender inequality and child healthcare, helped reduce Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)/Maternal Mortality Rate(MMR), treated more than 8000 hectares of land with watershed input, established marketing linkages, provided vocational education to rural youth (both women and men) and promoted the establishment of micro enterprises.
The major source of livelihood in the district of Mahbubnagar in the state of Telengana is agriculture. Inadequate and poorly distributed rainfall, uneven and undulating topography and degraded landscape characterize the district. About 45% of the farms are small and marginal in size (less than 2.0 ha) and 40% of the population is dependent on agricultural wage labour as large portions of arable land are either fallow or only a single crop with poor yields is cultivated. The recurring droughts, at least six times in the 14 years starting from 1984 to 1998, forced many people to migrate to other districts/states in search of ‘employment’. The labour of this district is known as ‘Palamur’ labour. The development index speaks itself for the pathetic situation and the hostile conditions in which the women and children suffer the most due to social and cultural disadvantages on one side, and the degraded natural resources, on the other.
Keeping in view the deplorable condition of the district, YFA decided to address the following broad objectives:
- 1. Encourage people’s participation especially women in the area of natural resources management for sustainable development.
- 2. Support women for initiatives related to providing safe drinking water, healthcare and leadership development.
- 3. Coordinate with other institutions for technology transfer and establish backward-forward linkages.
- 4. Bring social justice and equity through education, training and collective action.
- 5. Poverty alleviation and sustainable livelihoods.
However, Venkat Ramnayya, President of Youth for Action (YFA), was concerned about what should be the way forward. Several questions ran in his mind. “How can women farmers’ agricultural contribution be recognized and added to the national GDP? What can be an effective strategy? What will be the repercussions if their contributions are added to the national GDP? What if their contributions aren’t added? Whether any specialised institution or people would be required for the purpose?”
After completing the case
- • The students can appreciate the ‘invisible’ contribution of women to household and particularly household agriculture and the reasons behind it
- • The students can understand the importance of women in agriculture
- • The students can learn how to empower rural women for poverty alleviation and natural resource management
Case Positioning and Setting
The case is designed primarily for full time and executive MBA programs. It can be used to teach modules on social entrepreneurship/social initiatives in developing countries. The case can also be taught in MBA programs in Rural Management.