PepsiCo India Making Efforts to Help Women Farmers ‘Break the Glass Ceiling’

Kj contributor
Kj contributor
Women Farmer
Women Farmer

Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy, and it plays a crucial role in the country's overall socio-economic fabric. In FY20-21, the agricultural industry contributed 20% of GDP for the first time in 17 years, and the agricultural sector employs nearly two-thirds of our people, including women farmers. In India, women make up-to about 42% of the agricultural labor force, but they are still considered a silent contributor. Despite their vast numbers, less than 2% of Indian women own farms. 

In India too, women farmers are not fully equipped to succeed in the agriculture sector, despite their substantial presence and contribution. They encounter numerous obstacles that prevent them from investing in their future. As per the cultural conventions followed in India, most women are considered as domestic carers and caretakers of their homes.  

According to Land Governance’s database in 2018, women farmers continue to be marginalized in terms of land ownership and also in land-data ecosystems. Furthermore, their lack of access to labor-saving technologies, time-saving services, as well as farming infrastructure and best practices, exacerbates this disparity. Moreover, inadequate access to land, information, finance and machinery become major roadblocks to sustaining and improving their farming livelihoods. 

Being an ‘Agri’ company at heart, PepsiCo has been working towards positively impacting the lives of farmers including women.  

Two years ago, PepsiCo partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for a pilot project ‘Women Empowerment Initiative’. This partnership has already empowered over 1000 women farmers with new skills and knowledge under PepsiCo’s Sustainable Farming Program in the potato value chain.  

The pilot was launched in West Bengal and there has been an encouraging response leading to improved women’s access to land, skills, and employment and entrepreneurial opportunities which has further led to an increase in the adoption of sustainable farming practices (SFPs) and improved women’s livelihood. 


Marking International Women’s day, as an opportunity to recognize the remarkable achievements of women who have broken the stereotypes and have advanced towards gender equality around the world - we bring to you stories of fascinating women farmers who dared to break the stereotypes in the field of agriculture and thus have become role models for many. 

Anita Singh, a women farmer who lives in Kotulpur, Bankura district, West Bengal, engaged in all farming activities along with her husband. This commendable woman farmer has learned a lot by attending agronomy training on potato farming offered by PepsiCo and USAID in 2020-21: her first formal training she received on agricultural practices. While getting training, she learned the key nuances of specialized PepsiCo potato farming, which includes seed cutting and seed treatment, agrochemical use, waste disposal, and record keeping. In addition, she also got acquainted with a host of scientific farming practices, as well as the reasons for adopting these practices to increase overall productivity. She now wishes to apply her knowledge, especially in relation to the use of organic manure, treating potato seeds with fungicide, and cutting seeds effectively in the upcoming years. She yearns to learn more about potato pests, diseases and their treatment and prefers to introduce herself as a farmer instead of being referred to as “wife of a farmer”. 

Sujata Pramanik, is a women farmer who lives in Chandra, Bankura, West Bengal. She has been working as a Community Agronomist in Barasat under ILRG Project in 2020-21. This commendable woman farmer has learned a lot by attending the agronomy training in the year 2019-20: her first formal training she received on farming. This ‘Women Empowerment Initiative’ has improved her personality to a great extent. She has gained immense confidence and recognition. Now, she is not just a potato farmer but a trainer and a motivator who has been focusing on learning the nuances of sustainable farming practices. She proudly calls herself as the biggest proponent of women’s empowerment within her community. 

This specialized training from Pepsico and USAID has helped these farmers to a great extent. They are earning well and are able to contribute to the family income as well.  

Promoting women's empowerment in agriculture is an opportunity that can prove to be a breakthrough towards a more sustainable food system. Women farmers' enhanced role as primary producers and higher participation in decision-making will lead to not just rural development but also contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.  

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