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Unleashing the social capital of self-help groups for strengthening seed systems in Uttar Pradesh, India

Boef, Walter S. de; Singh, Samarth; Trivedi, Pooja; Yadav, Kripal Singh; Mohanan, P.S.; Kumar, Sampath; Yadavendra, Jagdish Prasad; Isaacs, Krista

Abstract

Women's empowerment and varietal replacement of crops are often unconnected domains in agricultural development; an experience connecting both in India has global potential. Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana, a women's empowerment and poverty reduction program in Uttar Pradesh, embedded seed practices within the collective structure of women's self-help groups. Through collective efforts, women became successful in the production and dissemination of quality seed of new rice and wheat varieties, reaching more than 30,000 small-scale farmers. They appropriated several components of the seed value chain; their social capital became instrumental in varietal replacement. The self-perception of women as knowledgeable farmers changed, as did the perception of household and community members; therefore, seed activities contributed to intrinsic women's empowerment.