Dialogue July- September, 2005, Volume 7  No. 1

Gender concerns and food security in rice farming systems of north east India

Patricia Mukhim

The State of Meghalaya was carved out of the composite state of Assam in 1972. At the time it had only two districts—the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills. By the next decade the state had five districts, East and West Khasi Hills, East and West Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills. With the addition of two new districts, Ri Bhoi and South Garo Hills there are now seven districts in 1972, Meghalaya’s population was 1,93,582. According to the 2001 census the latest population figures is 23,06,069. The decadal growth has ranged from 31.50% in 1971 to 29.94% in 2001. The highest percentage variation of growth at 32.86% occured between 1981-91

Majority of people in Meghalaya depend on agriculture directly or indirectly. The state grows cereals such as rice, maize, wheat and gram. Its cash crops include tea, cotton, ginger, turmeric, black pepper jute, cashew nut, arecanut and betel leaves. Vegetables grown are potatoes, cabbages, cauliflower, beans, tomatoes, peas etc. Horticulture is becoming and important activity of people in Meghalaya. A large part of South Khasi Hills grows oranges and bananas. Horticulture is gaining ground in Garo Hills where organge and banana cultivation is carrying on in a large scale. Ri Bhoi district and West Khasi Hills have also been brought under special horticulture schemes.

Production of major crops such as rice, maize and wheat have shown an increase in the last thirty years. Production of rice grew from 1,09,353 MT in 1970-71 to 1,32,582 in 1980-81. But between 1995-96 rice production came down to 1,12,503 MT. Production increased gradually and by 2000-2001 it went up again to 1,79,042 MT. In a period of over 30 years, rice production grew by only 70,000 MT. But there was a sudden jump in production of approximately 10,000 MT in 2001-2002. Potato production on the other hand more than doubled in 30 years. From 71,231 MT in 1971 it has gone up to 1,44,292 MT in 2000-2001.

The area under rice cultivation was 95576 hectares in 1970-71. It went up to 1,06600 hectares in 2000-2001. In terms of acreage therefore, rice is the major crop of Meghalaya. The yield rate of rice was in 1970-71 was 1,144 Kgs per hectare. It dipped down to 1,082 per hectare during 1995-96. But the yield improved to 1,679 Kgs per hectare in 2000-2001.

In Meghalaya jhum cultivation is still very prevalent with about 52,290 families still practicing jhum. But the increase in forest area from 8,22,862 hectares in 1973-74 to 9,50,575 hectares in 2000-2001, ( an increase of forest land by 15.5 %) would mean a reduced space for jhum cultivation. Rice is the staple food of people in Meghalaya but its production is insufficient to meet the requirements in the State. Rice is imported mainly from Andhra Pradesh and Punjab to meet local consumption needs.

The availability of foodgrain which is a result of production, trade balance and changes in government procurement reflects the food assurance scenario. The per capita net availability of foodgrains in the country stands at 467 grams per day. (Economic Survey 1999-2000). If the per capita daily requirement is 375 grams per day, the above figure is more than sufficient. In the North Eastern states estimates say that the per capita availability of foodgrain from internal production is sufficient to feed the population in all states except Mizoram and Meghalaya.

According to the NSSO data 50th and 55th round, households with no cultivable land in Meghalaya as on 1999-2000 is at 12.42%. Percentage of holding operated by small and marginal farmers as in 2001 was 9.3 % and agricultural labourers accounted for 23.3 %. The total monthly per capita consumption in Kg is 11.6 and consumption out of home grown stocks of rice in Meghalaya in kilograms is 4.91. Market dependency for food is at 58.2. This clearly indicates that the poorer agricultural households do not produce enough food to sustain themselves for the whole year. The only assurance for poor rural farmers is to have enough home grown food. The more dependent they are on cash purchases the more vulnerable they are to market fluctuations. The question that arises is from where do non-land owning households get the purchasing power to buy foodgrains. More so when the public distribution system has failed to serve their needs.

Meghalaya does not have a clear and definite policy on agriculture in general and rice farming in particular. The State Planning Board make pious statements that the State should strive to be self-sufficient in food grains of which essentially means rice. But this pronouncement does not match up with Government’s policies and programmes for the agricultural sector. This is partly because Government has no control over land. Secondly, the State’s agrarian policy as presented by Government at the farmers’ conference two days ago lacks a clarity and vision insofar as the real needs of the agricultural sector is concerned. In Meghalaya, the market economy has entered without us being least prepared for it. As a result farmers have had no choice. They have been pushed into meeting the dictates of the market without any safety nets being put in place. The State as an organ that should have prepared the farming community for meeting the demands of market forces has itself been caught unawares.

Meghalaya was perhaps the first state to have initiated an Economic Development Council as far back as 1994. This was intended to provide an integrated approach to economic planning and to dovetail all sectors of the economy so that each sector adds to the growth of the other and planning becomes integrated and balanced. Unfortunately the EDC has been put in cold storage by successive governments and has only been revived in the last couple of days.

Since this paper looks at gender concerns in rice farming systems it will be important to analyse the state’s agricultural policy vis-à-vis its capacity to focus on gender concerns. The State Agricultural policy is to say the least very gender blind. But the agriculture department cannot be held responsible for this. While the country has put in place the National Policy for Women (NPEW), states of the North East do not as yet have a State Policy for Women which would have ideally mainstreamed gender into all sectors of development and economy. The State policy lacks an incisive approach to agriculture and does not appear to be based on field studies and does not articulate the needs of the farming community in the least. That being the case it is unthinkable that the State would even have space for gender concerns.

Access to land

The folklore of the Khasi Jaintia and Garo people shows a number of traits that can be identified as agricultural. The above three major tribes of Meghalaya practice a matrilineal system where lineage is from the mother’s side and ancestral property passes through the youngest daughter. It would be incorrect therefore to make a general statement that all women own property or inherit it from their parents. When community land or Ri-Raid is allocated by the community leaders to any person who wishes to settle and cultivate in that Raid, the Sordar who is the head of a Raid has the prerogative to allocate the land to a male or female member. So it is not always women who own land or possess clear land titles. The practice of land ownership in the woman’s name may be prevalent in urban areas where land is acquired for construction of a house. But even here things are fast changing. More men are buying land in their own names. Absentee urban landlords are acquiring large tracts of community land especially for farming purposes, by subverting the traditional customary laws. In the absence of safeguards from within the community and State, poor farmers often get into debts when crops fail. They are forced to mortgage their land to the more affluent members of the community. In this manner landlessness in a very large scale has crept into large parts of West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi District and Garo Hills.

Having access to land does not necessary mean having control over the land and its resources. In the case of both Khasis and Garos though the youngest daughter (khatduh in case of Khasis and Nohkhrum among the Garos) inherits ancestral property, in practice, both the khatduh and nohkhrum have very little control over how the land is used. Their husbands or even brothers/uncles usually decide what portion of the land is to be cultivated, how much will be used for livestock and how much for various other crops.

While it is true that today both men and women farmers do not have access to adequate resources, women’s access is even more constrained as a result of cultural, traditional and sociological factors. Traditional inheritance and land tenure laws limit women’s ownership and use of land. Because of the inherent inequities prevailing due to birth-order preferences, except for the youngest daughter, other daughters women find it equally difficult to access bank loans because they have no valid legal documents to provide as collateral.

Land Tenure System

According to statistics 43% of agricultural workers/farmers in Meghalaya are women. This implies that women’s contribution to agriculture is phenomenal. But the present land tenure system is very insecure and poses serious problems. Farmers are increasingly cultivating on lease-hold land with short tenurial rights. This is mainly because large tracts of agricultural land are under the ownership of absentee landlords. Cadastral survey has never been conducted in Meghalaya since its inception. Hence there are no official records to indicate who owns how much land and whether it is ethical or equitable for a few landlords to own land at the expense of the larger community.

The Khasi-Jaintia and Garo societies were traditionally characterized with a customary tenure with regard to land. The customary tenure refers to distribution of rights to use land or to dispose of user-rights over land as recognized by the community. The distribution pattern is not necessarily based on statutory or recorded evidence. The institutionalization of land holding was evolved out of local customs and traditions than because of any legislation. One significant feature of the Khasi-Jaintia and Garo custom with regards to land is the total absence of the concept of land as a marketable commodity. There was very little distinction between community ownership of land and right of an individual or group to occupy or use a piece of land at any given point within the framework of the rights of the community as a whole.

After the creation of Meghalaya, the Government constituted a Land Reforms Commission for Khasi Hills to enquire into (1) the land holding system in each Syiemship, Lyngdohship, Sirdarship etc for all classes of land including the changes that have crept in since the coming of the British. (2) difficulties experienced by the people and the difficulties of land management and administration at all levels caused mainly by the lack of cadastral maps and records of rights for each class of land. The Commission recorded three types of land in Khasi-Jaintia Hills. These were 1) Government land 2) Ri Raid land (community land) 3) Ri-Kynti or private land. Ri-Raid land was defined by the Commission as land set apart for community over which no person has ownership, heritable or transferable right excepting the right of use and occupancy. When a person ceases to use or occupy the land for a consecutive period of three years his rights over the land reverts to the community. However, a person assumes heritable and transferable rights if he makes permanent improvements on the land. But even then a person can forfeit his rights if he completely abandons the land over such a period of time as the Dorbar Raid considers long enough. Any person can seek to gain entry and settle into any Ri-Raid land provided he pays an entry fee to the Village Headman or Sordar.

The Commission also identified Ri-Kynti land as private land which are set apart from the time a particular village was founded. The practice of ‘skud khyndew’ or laying claim on as much free land as a person could physically administer is the basis of Ri-Kynti. The owner of Ri-Kynti enjoys ownership rights over land. Such land is heritable and transferable by the owner. Ri-Kynti would also include parts of Ri-Raid land which was bestowed upon a person or family for meritorious service rendered to the community.

Khasi customary practice as it was envisaged by our founding mothers is therefore most equitable but only insofar as it was applied at a time when population was small; there was no pressure over land; land was not yet a marketable commodity. The custom discouraged absentee landlordism by ensuring that no plot of land was allowed to lie idle for more than three years and that every person allocated land would necessarily have to live there or develop it according to her genius.

However what needs to be understood is that the Khasis practiced some kind of oligarchy from the very inception of their societies. The ruler of a Khasi State must belong only to the Syiem clan and the electoral college for election of the Syiem comprised only some elite clans or original settlers of a particular village who were called the ‘Bakhraw’. Although the Syiem is not a landed monarch in the real sense of the term but only the first among equals, the system was soon subverted whereby the Syiem and his immediate family members and the Bakhraw staked claim to more land than they could use and converted it to Ri-Kynti. History tells us that the Bakhraw clan were the first to create Ri-Kynti for themselves and this system is now perpetuated more blatantly. It would be wrong therefore to think that Khasi-Jaintia society is egalitarian. In fact it is a stratified society where some are more equal than others.

The Garo society however is different from the Khasi-Jaintia because there was never any sanction for privately owned land. Among the Garo communities land is divided into akhing land where members of a particular clan or mahari had usufruct rights. Each akhing land was commonly owned. That practice continued until the communities decided to diversify from the traditional jhum cultivation and moved towards a more settled form of agriculture. Then when the Garos were introduced to horticulture and began to grow cash crops like ginger and cashew nuts for years together, the land on which these cash crops were grown became a permanent possession of an individual family. Although in theory the land still belongs to the community the standing crops belong to the individual grower. It is only a matter of time when that land is converted into private ownership. 

Commodification of land as a marketable resource began when Meghalaya became a full-fledged state in 1972. Construction of roads, buildings, bridges and other Government infrastructure meant that Government had to acquire land from clans, or from community land or from individual owners. Land acquisition deals became part and parcel of governance. Every deal was steeped in corruption and those involved were politicians, bureaucrats and tribal business class.

Studies conducted by Dr Vincent Kaushal in Ri Bhoi District found that almost all the residents of that area traditionally owned land. But in the last three decades nearly 90% of them had lost their land because they mortgaged them to local money lenders. Rates of interest at the time (1970-1980) ranged from 500 – 600% per annum. Other studies by Matthew and Nair found that a feudal system was beginning to take over. Earlier the non-tribal cultivator rented land from the tribals at exorbitant rates. Later the tribal landowners exploited their own people. Pauperisation of tribal farmers became a stark reality.

The system of intermediaries dominating a large part of the agricultural economy of Meghalaya has created its own set of problems. Those who own land do not cultivate because they are employed in urban areas or are pursuing other occupations. The cultivators do not own land. Such intermediary rights have created an unhealthy system where land owners reap the benefits of socio-economic development in the rural areas without investing in the process of development. Accessibility of the market forces into rural areas after roads were constructed has in turn raised the value of land and the subsequent fall-outs are only too visible today.

Since land belongs to individuals, clans and communities no Government Act can be applied on their administration. Agricultural land is increasingly being converted into horticultural holdings where cash crops are grown. There is no control or authority over the manner in which land is to be utilized. In Ri Bhoi district which is the rice bowl of the State the land by the side of the Shillong-Guwahati National Highway which was traditionally used for settled rice cultivation is now giving way to shops and buildings most of which belong to urban landlords.

Women’s Role in decision-making in relation to choice of crops and marketing of crops

Women have had a fairly important role in Khasi, Jaintia and Garo society. At a time when agriculture was mainly for subsistence there was not much problem on deciding what crops to grow. It was implied that the crops grown would cater to the needs of the family. But when market forces entered the agricultural sector and cash became an important component things have changed. By virtue of customary practices, decision-making is still left to men. Also men consider themselves more prudent in term sof deciding what would fetch more cash for the family. It was not thought necessary to consult their wives on the diversification of crops. In Khasi Hills we see rubber, tea, pineapple, banana plantations taking the place of jhum fields which were allowed to remain fallow and thereby reducing the area available for jhum. This was also part of the Government’s own scheme of checking and controlling jhum cultivation.

When it comes to preserving indigenous seeds and traditional practices however, it is found that women across the three communities are repositories of both seeds and indigenous knowledge systems.

In traditional farming communities women have little access to the wholesale markets in the urban centres. Studies conducted in West Khasi Hills have indicated that men decide where and when to market the crops. In the absence of procurement agencies, cold storages and marketing federations, prices are still decided by the buyers and in most cases by middlemen. Women have access to the weekly village markets where they sell vegetables grown in their kitchen gardens and in jhum fields. Women are also gatherers of NTFP such as mushrooms and a host of herbs and medicinal plants. These are also sold in the weekly markets. Women are also seen to have more freedom in selling their livestock such as chickens. But when it comes to pigs and goats women allow their husbands to sell these in the bigger markets. Women themselves still consider the male members of their family as having better business acumen at in bargaining and negotiating prices.

What is further observed is that men have absolute freedom about what they want to buy after the agricultural products are sold. They do not necessarily bring back all the money to the family kitty. Women on the other hand plough back every penny they earn from selling their vegetables and livestock. They either invest the money to buy more chickens or for buying seeds and seedlings or they use the money to buy rice, dal, salt and other domestic requirements.

Contribution of women labour in rice economy: impact on health; economic organization in terms of wages etc

Women are the backbone of the agricultural economy in Meghalaya. 43 % or more women are engaged as agricultural workers. They spend on an average about 10 hours daily working in the fields during the planting, weeding and harvesting season. Their major work comprises rice sowing, transplanting, followed by weeding, then harvesting and then winnowing and finally pounding the rice to separate it from the husk. Men make bunds in the fields and they plough the land. They also take part in sowing seeds. But whereas men earn between Rs 70-80 per day, women earn only 50-60 Rs although they put in more hours, takes lesser time off and sometimes even have to spend the night in the fields to keep watch over wild animals and elephants who might devour the ripened grains.

It is unfortunate that not much work has gone into linking women’s health problems with their long working hours in the fields. Medical science says that it is harmful for pregnant women to be bending long hours at a stretch. During the transplanting and weeding period women agricultural labourers have to bend for six to seven hours at a stretch. Preliminary studies have shown that they tend to suffer from miscarriage although women themselves have not yet linked that condition to their nature of work. Lower back pain is common among women agricultural labourers. This is due to long hours of bending followed by the rice-pounding activity which is very energy intensives.

As in the rest of the country, women agricultural workers in Meghalaya also lack title to productive assets, access to inputs such as land, credit, water, fertilizers, seeds, information, technology training and as mentioned above, access to markets. There are increasing numbers of female-headed households resulting either from divorce or desertion which are very high in Meghalaya or from urban migration of the male members. In such a situation unless the State mainstreams gender in its agricultural policies and makes a serious study of the impact of present policies on female-headed households it will be well nigh impossible to address the problems faced by women agricultural labourers. In West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya poor families exist who survive on rice and salt with dried fish. The nutritional levels of women and children is pathetic. Anaemia abounds both in Khasi-Jaintia and Garo Hills. They are susceptible to tuberculosis and malaria.

Meghalaya’s health policy is gender-blind. It sees the problems of women mainly as pertaining to the reproductive system during the reproductive years. There is no mention about what happens to women in their post-menopausal period. Studies have shown that women are vulnerable to many more diseases than men. They are susceptible to cancers of the breast, uterus, cervix, ovaries. Women suffer from uterine fibriosis and anaemia over and above the normal diseases that men suffer from. Because of dietary deficiencies they are now increasingly becoming susceptible to osteoporosis as well. Unless a gender-sensitive health policy is in place women will become the worst casualties because (1) they have no access to advanced diagnostic facilities, these being in the private sector (2) health care for more complicated ailments like cancer are not available in Government health centres or hospitals. Most treatment centres are in the private sector (3) Medicines are not easily available in Government hospitals. Even for treatment of tuberculosis the Government is unable to supply the required medicinal kit.

Women as preservers of agricultural knowledge in traditional rice economies & present status of women in this respect

Mira Nair’s film about an agricultural community in Garo Hills portrays very clearly how indigenous varieties of seeds are slowly but surely giving way to the high-yielding variety without a corresponding attempt to preserve the indigenous species. Women have special urns and containers where they store seeds for the whole year without them being destroyed by fungus etc. They have specific knowledge about where and in what temperature to store the seeds. But they also rue the fact that the ‘modern’ seeds given by the Department of Agriculture are not quite as tasty as the indigenous varieties. It is common knowledge that indigenous varieties of seeds are more resistant to pests besides their nutritional value. Unfortunately there have been no attempts at certification or of protecting the intellectual property rights of farming communities. In this case since women are preservers of seeds and of also of native wisdom about identifying medicinal and edible plants, the loss of such wisdom will be a loss to the gene pool of this country and the world.

Sadly, the Agriculture Department has never considered it necessary to consult women agriculturists or to document their knowledge, mainly because extension service workers even if they are women are not gender-sensitive and nor are they interested in field research work. Most trainings conducted by the Department are attended by men. Agriculture and other departments usually consult heads of traditional institutions while planning programmes and implementing them. Since women have no role in traditional institutions and have never been included in this grass-roots decision-making body it is no surprise that they are excluded from all intervention programmes. Besides, women are too burdened with domestic chores or with farm work.

The IFAD project working in two districts each in three states of Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya has managed to circumvent the exclusion of women by forming Natural Resources Management Groups (NaRM-G) where village communities participate in their own affairs, take their own decisions about what to grow and how best to use resources. In these NaRM groups it is clearly stipulated that two members from each household one male and one female are to be members of the NaRM-G. This has increased the participation of women in the project areas. But the process needs to be replicated in other districts to bring about a more participatory approach in decision-making.

Drudgery Prone Activities in Rice–Farming: Mechanization of agriculture in Meghalaya is the lowest in the country in which per hectare availability of Mechanical Power is hardly 0.358 HP. The all-India average is 1.00 HP. The Draft National Mechanization Policy proposes to raise the figure to 2 HP by 2020 AD. But the only machines used in agriculture today are power tillers, iron ploughs, improved harrows, tractors and bull dozers. There are a total of 117 power tillers, 20 iron ploughs, 20 improved harrows, 20 tractors and 5 bull dozers. There is a major shortfall in agricultural machinery as a whole. But the above machines relate to ploughing work carried out by men. Transplanting, weeding, harvesting which are inherently women’s activities are still carried out manually. Women are subjected to drudgery whether that be in their domestic chores which includes cooking, washing, fetching water and fuel, caring for the children, the sick and elderly or in their farm work. Though women make good drivers, power tillers and tractors are still in the realm of male activity. In women-headed households subsisting on agriculture, unless women learn to wield power tillers and tractors it might be too expensive for them to hire the services of the above machines.

The ‘kodali’ or ‘mohkhiew’ which is a spade used commonly among farmers of Meghalaya is the only implement that has been improvised so that women can use a smaller, lighter version. But this is good insofar as small kitchen gardens are concerned. You cannot use a mohkhiew to plough a farm. We would need to think of women friendly power tillers or encourage women to use these machines for their own good.

Women have had no say whatsoever in policy planning mainly because there have been very few women legislators. There have never been more than two women in any Government since the inception of Meghalaya. Even if there are women ministers they are usually given portfolios like Social Welfare, Health or Tourism. Our own legislators are not introduced to gender and its underpinnings so they are unlikely to understand the inherent dynamics of a gender-blind policy. To bring policy changes at the top we would need a gender-sensitive legislature.

NGOs with a gender approach could help in spreading gender awareness amongst all sections of people in Meghalaya. Hitherto women have been invisible participants in agriculture and quite ignorant that they have a right to demand technology that would reduce their drudgery. The ignorance and total dependence on Government grants and largesse have made them subservient, voiceless beneficiaries. How could they then take part in spreading new technology?

Jhumming as it exists today is no longer a sustainable method of farming. Yet experience has proved that efforts to stop jhumming without the active participation of the jhumias themselves and without a viable alternative in place is a worthless pursuit. Thankfully we have not yet conducted any evaluation study of the amount of money deployed so far to control jhum in this state and the results produced. It would have made the State sit up and reverse its policy. But that is not how states function. There is hardly any thinking about wasted resources. In any case, what is established beyond a shadow of doubt today is that the jhum fields are the only farmlands that produce organic crops, vegetables and herbs. The sensible thing to do is to improve jhumming to make it a more sustainable activity. A jhum field moreover is more of a family activity with adequate space for women and where she can take at least a few decisions about what to grow and in what quantity.

As far as the use of new and improved varieties of rice and other seeds are concerned, women have no role at all in deciding whether they should or should not be used. In fact the farmers are so dependent on Government for subsidies towards seeds, fertilizers, pesticides et al that they have no choice but to use those seeds given to them by the Department. There is no question of an informed choice or the power to make that choice. In fact the departments introduce new schemes from time to time and most of the schemes are time-bound and have a top-down approach. For instance the Agriculture Department decides that a certain crop fetches more money in the market and provides the farmers with seedlings. When there is a glut of that particular crop in the market the Department has no role in cushioning off the loss suffered through distress sale. We must take note of the fact that there are hardly any cold storages in this State which are located at reasonable distances.

Diversification of crops has always been done with some guidance from the Agriculture Department but the farmer is never told that if he grows a certain crops there are both pros and cons. Ignorance about the pros and cons prevent him from making a conscious, informed choice. Government is still wary about putting up front all available information lest they be challenged.

Indeed we have a long way to go as far as empowerment of the agricultural workers and farmers are concerned. Mere injection of more funds without the adequate policy changes and change in implementing methods will hardly revolutionize agriculture. In fact more money in the absence of a bottoms-up participatory governance, transparency in funds utilization and social auditing systems in place will only result in more corruption.

The gender concerns flagged above need to be addressed under the following heads:

         ²   Absence of gender differentiated and disaggregated data and existing data gaps with regards to rural women which result in overlooking gender issues for macro and micro planning must also be collected and collated. A gender blind data leads to distorted policies which favour male farmers and men in general.

         ²   Proper methodologies need to be developed that take cognizance of and value women’s contribution both actual and potential to productive activities so that women are not marginalized while implementing projects and programmes.

         ²   Facilitating women’s participation in Government and other institutional planning processes.

         ²   Women must be consciously allowed to participate in the designing, monitoring and evaluation of policies, projects and programmes and capacitated to evaluate gender differences and imbalances

         ²   Women should no longer be treated as welfare beneficiaries in employment and income generating projects but as assets developing their own productive potential.

         ²   Need to evaluate the impact of past policies on women so that corrective measures can be taken

         ²   Clear linkages need to be established between policy formulation and resource allocation

         ²   Policy statements addressing gender issues should not be clouded in ambiguities and are not easy to translate into positive action.

         ²   Rural women must be capacitated with technical and management skills and serious attempts made to add value to their work and reduce drudgery. They must be given functional training in book keeping and record keeping

         ²   Last but not least, agricultural policies must clearly articulate gender issues otherwise gender biases will be further perpetuated

         ²   State intervention while increasing productivity should ensure wage increase and other benefits for women. This is often neglected.

         ²   Structural adjustment policies that facilitate transition from subsistence to market economy do not address the negative impact especially on poor women. This needs special attention.

         ²   Women must be duly acknowledged and remunerated for their role as repositories of indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge systems.


     1.   Soumen Sen, Land as Property: Its significance in the Traditional Polity and Society in Khasi-Jaintia Hills

     2.   BB Dutta, “Land Alienation in the Khasi Hills – A Study in Ownership and Alienation

     3.   BB Dutta and PS Dutta, “Land Holding System Pattern among the Khasi Jaintias

     4.   Report of Meghalaya Land Reforms Commission, 1979

     5.   Meghalaya Social Economic Review, 2003, Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Meghalaya, Shillong 

     6.   Pocket Statistical Handbook, Meghalaya, 2003

    7.  Kaushal Vincent, Social Economic Study of Bhoilymbong (Madras CLC, 1979)


Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)

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