Two women in India broke through a major barrier in March when awarded the Krishni Ratna (“Jewel of Agriculture”) prize by the Government of West Bengal. The only women among 341 recipients, Chandarani Karan and Fulmani Hasda both used new agricultural techniques to improve productivity, achieving leadership status in their community.
Karan, 52, took over her father’s land when she was 17, following his death. College classmates teased her for her work in the field, and now she tills six acres of land with her family, with less than two of those acres in her own name. Following receipt of the prize, she deposited the prize money into the bank, and asked her husband if he would partition some of the land. He agreed, but worried that his wife may not “obey” him after the transaction.
Without land ownership, women are frequently not recognized as farmers. Karan and Hasda’s success in winning the Krishni Ratna prize represents an important step forward for women gaining recognition as key players in agriculture.