Women involved in farming activities face health hazards: study

Published: Sunday, November 12, 2006, 20:40 [IST]

Ludhiana, Nov 12 (UNI) In India, farm activities like cleaning wheat grains and filling gunny with them bags is the domain of women as these activities are considered 'light or moderately heavy' but the fact is that they take a heavy toll on their health in the long run.

This conclusion emerged after home scientists Kulbir Kaur,Krishana Oberoi and Shivani Sharma of Punjab Agiricultural University's (PAU) department of Family Resource Management conducted a study on the 'Occupational health hazards faced by the farm women during grain cleaning activity'.

The results from the study have indicated that the women faced serious health hazards during grain cleaning through traditonal ways, methods and with the age-old tool 'Chhaj'. The exercise leads to ''rising heart rate both average and peak, and higher consumption of energy''. The heart rate and consumption of energy was found to be high and above permissible limits.

The study also found that ''total cardiac cost and physiological cost was high''.

The scientists have recommended the need to device women-friendly, and cost effective tools for grain cleaning. Design of these devices should be such, as to reduce occupational health hazards of the farm women.

The urgent need is to identify technology to develop tools and techniques that will help to improve body posture of the women at work on farms. Fault body postures and positioning is the root cause of health hazards.

The three researchers in their study pointed out that in the rural scenario, women played an important role not only in crop cultivation but also in post-harvest operations, management of milch cattle and other major or minor farm and home related activites.While doing so in the traditional ways, these activities lead to consumption of time and body energy.

The study found that cleaning of wheat grains and filling of gunny bags are among the most common farm activities.

The study involved 30 farm women of Hoshiarpur district, who were performing these activites with faulty postures, like bending and squatting for long hours at a high physiological cost and low production.

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