Agricultural Kiosks in India: Improving Access to Inputs Among Small-Holder Women Farmers

Background

All through India, women farmers face inequalities. This is especially true of those in historically poor and disadvantaged Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Scheduled Caste (SC) communities. Although the entire population of women farmers in India face gender-based inequalities, women belonging to these communities are particularly marginalized, experiencing multiple layers of discrimination. The prevalence of Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste communities is particularly high in the state of Odisha, located in the eastern region of the India. Poverty levels in the state are also high with a significant percent of its population living below the poverty line. The primary source of employment in the state has historically been agriculture and this continues to be the case. However, over the years, the sector has suffered from minimal investment, declining growth, and frequent natural disasters.

The Pathways program seeks to increase poor women’s productivity and empowerment in more equitable agriculture systems at scale using a strong gender focus, working with ST and SC communities in two rural districts of Kalahandi and Kandhamal of Odisha State in India. To address agricultural input access disparities, the program tested an innovation that brings affordable inputs closer to farmers—agricultural kiosks. With supplementary funding from Cargill, Inc., Pathways is working to close the input supply gap, using agricultural kiosks as sustainable providers of inputs and market information to assist farmers. Kiosks are placed in close proximity to Pathways villages and within access to well-paved roads, eliminating the burden of farmers traveling 25+ kilometers to blocks where they previously went to purchase inputs. This case study assesses the impact of agricultural kiosks on access to inputs among women farmers in India.

Results

The study found that women’s access to agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers grew significantly over the project period, increasing 2.4 fold, from 37% to 89% at the end of the project. Survey data shows women at the baseline primarily sourced inputs from local producers, cooperatives and government programs, in the range of 12-14% of female farmer respondents for each of these groups. While sourcing from cooperatives and governments has decreased since baseline, inputs from local producers doubled to 26%. Similarly, there was a 23% increase in access to inputs from suppliers five or more kilometers away and a 40% increase in access to nearby suppliers such as agricultural kiosks, eliminating the burden of farmers traveling 25+ kilometers to blocks where previously they had to go to for inputs. At least half of the kiosk customers are women who are interested in paddy and kitchen garden inputs.

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