Agriculture team and Cheryl doss, 2011). Their roles

           Agriculture is regarded as the
growth engine and women as the spinal cord of agricultural workforce. In fact,
women are the most crucial actors in agricultural development as their participation
in agriculture, animal husbandry and homes is immense. They perform the most arduous
and back breaking tasks producing agricultural crops, tending to animals,
processing and preparing food, working for wages in agricultural or other rural
enterprises, engaging in trade and marketing, tending to family needs and
maintaining homes(SOFA team and Cheryl doss, 2011).

           Their roles vary considerably
between and within regions and are changing very rapidly in many parts of the
world, where economic and social forces are transforming the agricultural
panorama. Empirical data also depicts that against 63 percent of all
economically active men involved in agriculture, there are 78 percent of women.
Almost 50 percent of rural women workers are classified as agricultural
labourers and 37% as cultivators and about 70 percent of farm work is performed
by women (Ahmed, 2013). So obviously, real agricultural development will elude
us without adequately investing in developing the capabilities and encouraging
their empowerment. Farmers therefore, depend highly an effective extension
services to provide them sound advice on commercial and technical aspects to
improve their livelihood. Extension officers are stationed in each district to
assist farmers, in increasing production by using improved extension
methodology and technology. Competitiveness has gone up globally, forcing
developing countries to produce and market quality products at competitive
prices, even knowledge has become a highly priced commodity. With these changes
cutting into the economy of developing countries, there is a need to use
effective extension strategies to improve people’s capacities and
competitiveness. Government must pay attention to develop peoples’ capacities
that may lead to quick results in improving agricultural economy and growth.

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             Studies also substantiate that
agricultural sector is under performing in many countries because it overlooked
women’s role and ignored their training for capacity and competitiveness
building. According to 2010-11 FAO report “The State of Food and Agriculture”,
women comprise on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing
countries, ranging from 20 percent in Latin America to 50 percent in Eastern
Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa” (FAO, 2011). The report argues that reducing
gender inequalities in access to productive resources and services could
produce an increase in yields on agricultural farms of between 20 percent and
30 percent, which could raise agricultural output in developing countries by
2.5 percent to 4 percent (FAO, 2011).

             It is therefore important to reach
women in agriculture with designing, implementing, agricultural extension and
advisory services. Extension services here imply the different types of
programmes/projects/recommendations which the extension services make available
to their clientele through the use of extension education process. The World
Development Report way back in 1982 also stated that “extension services are
often biased toward work with men and neglect the very important role of women
as farmers in most parts of the world” (1983: 73). On the basis of the limited
number of empirical studies on women’s participation in agricultural extension
available at the time, (Berger et al. 1984) similarly concluded that existing
agricultural extension services were not working well for small farmers in
general, much less women farmers”, and that some very fundamental changes
needed to take place, not only in the type of technology that was developed but
in the structure of the service delivery system itself.

         It is carried out an
ambitious review of findings to date on the array of constraints faced by women
in accessing agricultural extension services and how, once these constraints
were removed, such services could indeed prove beneficial for women as well as
men. Despite the greater attention to gender issues now being paid, many of the
constraints that impede women’s ability to access extension services remained
largely overlooked. So, now is the time to translate their recognition more
equitably designed services and mechanisms for influencing extension policies
and practices (Jiggins et al. 1998). Market linkages for women producers need
to be strengthened to increase competitiveness. The need also remains for even
more substantive inclusion of women in such efforts. An explicit gender
dimension is needed to adequately remove inequalities that impede women from
becoming active agents in improving their livelihoods and those of their
households (World Bank, 2009). Men are often perceived as the “real” farmers
and receive a greater proportion of technical assistance and extension
services, even for tasks and crops that women manage. As a result, extension
services do not flow to the appropriate individuals, thus reducing service
providers’ impact on the quality and quantity of goods produced and marketed.
Adopting  practices that reduce these
inefficiencies for example, by hiring women extension officers and by targeting
both men and women for technical assistance will increase the impact of
agricultural extension services. Extension services
also rely on a number of techniques and methods to deliver extension services/
programmes which include individual or group visits, meetings, visit to model
farmers, demonstration plots, information and communication technologies (ICTs)
etc. which may not be relevant to women

                         Recent figures on
men’s and women’s access to advisory services continue to show relatively low
levels of contact between farmers and extension agents, with disproportionally
lower levels of access for women. Therefore, extension
services need to be carefully designed taking into account women’s lack of time
by identifying strategies for disseminating agricultural information at times
and in places convenient to women. Extension officers need to be conscious of
the times when women are available for meetings and schedule training at those
times. Training may need to be divided into short modules to accommodate
women’s schedules and provide women with the ability to attend meetings and
still manage their day-to-day tasks. Working with women on their own plots or
on plots close to their homes will reduce their time
spent in traveling. They can also be provided transportation and daily stipends
to encourage them to participate in extension programs. On-site residential and
child care facilities for long-term trainings can also be useful in a country
like India.