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Women's self-help groups, decision-making, and improved agricultural practices in India

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  • Raghunathan, K.

Abstract

Effective agricultural extension is key to improving productivity, increasing farmers access to information, and promoting more diverse sets of crops and improved methods of cultivation. In India, however, the coverage of agricultural extension workers and the relevance of advice they provide is poor. We investigate whether another platform that of women s self-help groups could be an effective way of improving access to information, women s empowerment in agriculture, improved agricultural practices, and production diversity. We used cross-sectional data on close to 3000 women from 5 states in India, and employ nearest-neighbor matching models to match SHG and non-SHG women along a range of pre-determined characteristics. We find that participation in an SHG increases women s access to information and their participation in some agricultural decisions, but has limited impact on agricultural practices or outcomes. Other constraints like income and social norms could be limiting the translation of knowledge into practice. Since SHGs are uniquely placed to change even these constraints, it is important to identify and account for them when advocating the use of these groups in improving agriculture and livelihoods. Acknowledgement : This work was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). The opinions expressed here belong to the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of A4NH or CGIAR. We acknowledge the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the research project Women Improving Nutrition through Group-based Strategies, OPP1132181. The authors would also like to thank Purnima Menon for useful feedback on this paper.

Suggested Citation

  • Raghunathan, K., 2018. "Women's self-help groups, decision-making, and improved agricultural practices in India," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277537, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae18:277537
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