Gender, caste, and asset control: Implications for agricultural projects in rice-wheat systems of eastern India

Thelma R. Paris, Valerien Pede, Joyce Luis, Raman Sharma, Abha Singh, Jeffrey Estipular

Hundreds of millions of people in South Asia depend on cereal cropping and mixed crop-livestock systems for their food, employment, and income. These systems in eastern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh include cultivation of rice, wheat, and maize. The objectives of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project, which started in 2009, are to decrease hunger and malnutrition and increase the food and income security of resource-poor farm households in the region. CSISA did not initially design program activities to address gender-differentiated constraints on technology adoption (IRRI-CSISA 2009). However, understanding the gendered nature of asset distribution and how this influences individual and household livelihoods is essential to designing effective agricultural research and development for interventions and policies. This understanding will help strengthen, within the context of CSISA, women’s access to and control over key agricultural assets. Such an understanding is the goal of this study by the Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project (GAAP). The study focuses on Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh in rural India, two areas where CSISA operates.