Women growers' contribution in West Bengal recognised

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17 May 2022
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Awards presented in joint initiative by Pepsico and USAID

SIX female potato growers in India have been internationally recognised for their farming work and for breaking stereotypical views of women in their local communities.

The awards were recently presented by Melinda Pavek, Consul General, US Consulate General, Kolkata, and Ronald Verdonk, Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, US Embassy, and are part of a joint initiative by Pepsico and USAID to build a more sustainable food system, while at the same time supporting and upskilling Bengalese women in agriculture. 

Shamima Begum and Anwara Begum from West Bengal’s Hooghly district, and Sujata Pramanik, Manisha Alu, Tapasi Pal and Anita Singh from Bankura district received awards for breaking gender stereotypes by learning and implementing best practices related to collaborative potato farming, professionalising their work as farmers, PepsiCo said in a statement last week.

In 2019, PepsiCo partnered with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative. The partnership aims to empower women farmers with new skills and knowledge under PepsiCo’s Sustainable Farming Program in the potato value chain in West Bengal, India. 

Under the programme, more than 1,000 women have been trained in potato agronomy and sustainable farming practices, with a goal of reaching 500 additional women farmers in 2022, which eventually will impact on more than 300,000 women in West Bengal through community engagement initiatives. The partnership hopes to demonstrate that investing in women in PepsiCo’s supply chains can lead to greater profitability and sustainability, as well as development outcomes, like gender equality and economic growth, the company states.

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The partnership's work over the past three years has included educating women on sustainable farming practices, best irrigation and crop rotation techniques, financial literacy and entrepreneurship through training programmes. This is intended to help them become independent growers. Other community initiatives include supporting women to lease land, training men and women to support gender norms and change, and engaging male champions to design local approaches to more equitable and sustainable agriculture.

Around 70% of Pepsico's food processing potato requirements are obtained from West Bengal growers, the company has stated.

Pratap Bose, Associate Director - Agriculture, PepsiCo India, said in a recent interview with YourStory: "Ultimately, it is expected that the training programme in West Bengal will reach more than 300,000 women through direct and community engagement in the next few years."

Two of the women were recently interviewed about their experiences. Read their stories here.

Sources: Press Trust of India / YourStory

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