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Women grow as much as 80% of India's food – but its new farm laws overlook their struggles

Planting paddy saplings in Patiala, India. Three-quarters of Indian farmers are women, but most don’t own their land. Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Women grow as much as 80% of India's food – but its new farm laws overlook their struggles

Planting paddy saplings in Patiala, India. Three-quarters of Indian farmers are women, but most don’t own their land. Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Women grow as much as 80% of India's food – but its new farm laws overlook their struggles

Planting paddy saplings in Patiala, India. Three-quarters of Indian farmers are women, but most don’t own their land. Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Women grow as much as 80% of India's food – but its new farm laws overlook their struggles

Planting paddy saplings in Patiala, India. Three-quarters of Indian farmers are women, but most don’t own their land. Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Indian women are left behind on farms to make ends meet as more men in India migrate from rural areas to cities, seeking higher incomes and better jobs.

Bansari Kamdar, University of Massachusetts Boston and Shreyasee Das, Temple University

Indian women are left behind on farms to make ends meet as more men in India migrate from rural areas to cities, seeking higher incomes and better jobs.

Nearly 75% of the full-time workers on Indian farms are women, according to the international humanitarian group OXFAM. Female farmers produce 60% to 80% of the South Asian country’s food.

So it’s little surprise women are playing a visible role in the monthslong nationwide protests against agricultural reforms passed last September by the Indian government.

Small farmers are particularly vulnerable to three new laws, which deregulated the agricultural market and weakened the government-established minimum sale price for crops in ways that, demonstrators say, could pit small farmers against big agribusiness firms.

And women, as the most marginal of India’s small farmers, may suffer the most if the laws go into effect.

“We barely have any land. If that too is gifted to [billionaires], then what will we eat?” 69-year-old Surinder Kaur, a member of the Kisan Sabha farmers union, told the Indian digital news site The Wire when asked why she was protesting.

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