The grape farms of Nashik on the foothills of the Western Ghats are quite successful. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grapes are exported from here. And women are one of the driving forces behind this.
Behind Nashik’s successful grape economy is a story of women’s labour bearing fruit. Hundreds of women are playing a big part in the cultivation and export of grapes, sowing new ideas and adopting new technology. Many have bitter sweet stories to share.
“It is the women in Nashik who are the pivot of grape cultivation,” acknowledges Vilas Shinde, Chairman of Sahyadri Farmers’ Producer Company Ltd, describing how men are more involved in financial matters related to exports.
Women are certainly more open to experimentation. Take Bharati Kushare, who has planted ARRA-15, a new variety of grape in her farm that gives two harvest seasons in a year. She says that one has to experiment in farming. Like Sangeeta Boraste, she lost her husband and had to step into cultivation to pay off loans. Her farm is thriving now and she is investing in new technology.