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Home > Policy & Practices > Grain banks contribute to women's empowerment

Grain banks contribute to women's empowerment


Madhya Pradesh: The Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project (MPRLP) is being implemented in nine districts of the State. Grain banks are one such initiative that is helping small and marginal farmers at the time of drought and crop failure.

NGOs in the State have been setting up grain banks for the past decade. In Betul district, for instance, grain banks exist since 2001 and are now seen in 30 villages covering over 700 households majority of which are very poor.  Grain banks are particularly used during crop failure. 

Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal: Grain bank is based on the traditional concept of keeping aside a little grain everyday for use in times of distress. Grain banks are being promoted in the flood-prone regions of Gorakhpur district in Uttar Pradesh and in the Sunderbans in West Bengal. In Gorakhpur, grain banks are located at a central place in a village and are on higher ground so that they are not washed away by floodwaters. Usually made of bamboo or bricks, its roof is often made with bamboo and straw – all locally available materials. Grain banks are ‘owned’ and ‘managed’ by women’s self-help groups and used during emergency, including crop failure. In Sunderbans too, women’s groups manage the grain banks, deciding how much to lend and what the interest is going to be. Interest is earned in kind where borrowers return extra grain after the next harvest.

From a Gender Lens

Grain banks ensure food security for both men and women during lean periods, as also during and after disasters.  Managing grain bank empower women to take decisions on running the bank. They collectively own, control, and manage a community resource and often earn respect from the menfolk. Women’s negotiation power within homes has increased because men now ask women whether they should borrow from the grain bank or not and discuss coping/adaptive mechanisms with them. Again, women’s ability to secure grains during emergency has led to reduction in debts, thereby giving women a higher status within households.

Policy Options

Grain banks should be made mandatory in every panchayat through women’s groups and resourced through adaptation interventions integrated with the Village Development Plans developed by Gram Panchayats. These plans should be ‘Local Action Plans on Adaptation’ or LAPAs. In addition to rice, storage of diverse grains including local millets should also be promoted. 

Further Reading

1.    Resource organisations: GEAG
(http://www.geagindia.org/) and DRCSC (www.drcsc.org)

2.     ‘LAPAs’ recommended first in Kapoor, Aditi (2011). Engendering the Climate for Change: Policies and Practices for Gender-just Adaptation. Alernative Futures, New Delhi

3.    Madhya Pradesh grain banks: www.mprlp.in

4.    Government of India Grain Bank Scheme: http://dfpd.nic.in/?q=node/222