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Bureaucratic loophole leaves women farmers in Bangladesh high and dry

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Summary of story from IRIN News, September 30, 2011

Women farmers in Bangladesh are being denied access to vital farming subsidies because of a bureaucratic loophole.

Many are unable to access fertiliser, diesel, cash assistance and other government subsidies for farmers because the land they work is registered in their husband’s name.

Almost half of all farmers in Bangladesh are women. The number of women in farming has risen over the past decade, while the number of men has fallen as they have gone in search of jobs in cities and abroad.

To access the farming assistance, farmers have to present their Agriculture Input Assistance Card (AIAC) to the government.

Sharmind Neelormi, an associate economics professor at Jahangir Nagar University in Dhaka, who has studied gender trends in farming, said:

“In order to recognize the role of the real food heroines of the country, the government must revise its policy related to AIAC. Ownership of land cannot be the main criteria for distributing AIAC.”

Aloka Rani, a 45-year-old female farmer from Rangpur District, began farming after her husband’s death a decade ago.

She said: “When I go to buy fertilizer, I am served last, and I face difficulties in hiring day labourers because in the village powerful males mock labourers who work under women.”

A bank declined to give her a loan, too, because her land is registered under her husband’s name.

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