Turmeric farming women in Maharashtra break menstruation stigma

The farmers of Yavatmal have found a way to overcome the discrimination they face by growing turmeric in the district of Maharashtra.

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The female farmers of Yavatmal battle sexism in growing turmeric (Image: Marta Branco, Pexels)

As one of the largest producers of turmeric in the world, India manufactures about 80% of the world’s production. Seeing such a huge share in the world for turmeric production, it is hard to believe that a section of our country still lives in superstitions and blind beliefs. 

But the women of Yavatmal are making history by taking a progressive step, by cultivating turmeric and shutting up stigmas.

The superstition of Yavatmal district on turmeric production

Yavatmal is a district in the state of Maharashtra in India where women were not allowed to cultivate turmeric. They had become victims of superstitions that prevented their participation in the cultivation of turmeric. Such blatant sexism is a regular part of India, where while some women achieve scientific progress, others are forced into traditional roles. As per the information published in The Hindu BusinessLine, young women of the Yavatmal district were not allowed to cultivate turmeric because it was traditionally believed that if menstruating women touched the plants or their shadow fell on them, it could pollute and destroy the crops.

Financial needs overpowered stigmas

To bring a change to the district of Yavatmal, young women of the district took the initiative to cultivate turmeric and prove the baseless beliefs wrong. They have succeeded in growing turmeric and are now on the path to producing it for the global market to fulfill rising demands. Madhuri Khadse, a farmer in the Yavatmal district, told BusinessLine that the initiative was a product of the pandemic that urged them to take the step to grow turmeric for their families. She also said that some women were reluctant about the idea, but with the help of other women, Madhuri was able to make it a reality.

Challenging and overcoming superstitions

Archana Bhoyar said to The Hindu BusinessLine that women in the Yavatmal district always played a vital role in the cultivation process, but they never got the recognition they deserved. She further states that women have to step forward to progress their condition and claim their rights to cultivate and market crops.

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The pandemic era gave the women a new hope when they began experimenting and started growing turmeric in their fields. They got seeds from an organization and started to grow them in pots and bags and succeeded in reaping the yield.

The women said that they did all the activities, from taking care of the plants to harvesting, even while menstruating. They say the process will continue, and they will start selling turmeric in the commercial market as well.

A positive impact on the Indian turmeric market

India is the largest consumer and exporter of turmeric in the world, with over 60% of its production getting exported to other countries. Indian turmeric, also known as the golden spice, has always had global demand. Women coming to the forefront to cultivate turmeric by overcoming discrimination could help in balancing the supply-demand chain in the long run.

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