International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Agricultural Extension:
Women and Dry Land Farming

M. Foruzani and M. Keshavarz

Department of Agricultural Extension and Education, College of Agriculture, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran


Dry regions of Iran have an average rainfall of 250 millimeters yearly which is equivalent to one third of what is obtainable in the World. Some studies that have been conducted in dry zones of Iran show various results about women's rate of participation in agricultural activities as well as the attitude of rural men towards the acceptance of their roles. This study was based on the review and analysis of several qualitative and quantitative researches conducted in Iran on women's role in agriculture. It focuses on effective factors on women participation in agriculture and extensional services provided to the rural women.
In some central regions of Iran which include dry zones, men accept women's management role only as housekeepers. In southern regions of Iran, women participate directly in agricultural operations such as land preparation, cultivation and harvesting of crops. These roles are accommodated by men in that region.
An overview of some studies shows that women's role in animal husbandry activities has been noted to be more important than planting crops. This position may be due to limited access by women to large area of land and low mechanization in the rural area. Woman’s participation at different levels of crops cultivation is depended on the degree of rural development, combination of family members, type of agricultural activity, natural setting, cultural features and social-economical factors. Review of various studies indicates that women play an essential role in production activities.
This study shows that orientation of extension services to rural women is unfavorable in Iran with women not mentioned in development cycle. Most of the educational and extensional services are men-oriented. The positive attitude of rural women in dry land region of Iran toward different agricultural activities is an indication that they are ready to enhance their capabilities by receiving and learning new innovation. So it is essential to plan suitable educational programs to respect women’s conditions related to agricultural activities. If extensional sectors pay more attention to woman's needs, their collaborations in agricultural activities will increase.

Keywords: women, agricultural extension, participation, dry zones, Iran