What we do


The Programme Area adopts the strategy of Inter-disciplinary Research while working with other programme (disciplinary) themes that integrates gender studies through joint or collaborative initiatives. Also it independently carries Gender Specific Research Programmes. The major priority areas for gendered action and research are resource rights, climate change and natural resources, including biodiversity, science and technology including ICTs and sustainability, collective action and institutions. In addition, activities taken up aim to strengthen Grassroots Institutions (GRI), across Programme areas emanating from field level participatory research and development interventions.

Inter-disciplinary Research

Under this stream, collaboration between Gender studies and other Programme Area disciplines is established through joint project as well as impact studies. Such projects have explicit gender goals in the proposal itself linked with concerned scientific theme as one of the drivers. Apart from research projects and studies, nurturing inter-disciplinary research team on Science, Technology and Gender is strengthened through Gender Mainstreaming and Integration (GIM) group.


Biofertilization and Bioirrigation for sustainable mixed cropping of pigeonpea and finger millet (BIOFI)

It is a multi institutional network project supported by Department of Biotechnology under Indo-Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology started July 2014. The main approach of the project is on a mixed cropping system of finger millet and pigeon pea, which will make optimal use of the biofertilizers by the allocation and re-distribution of water through hydraulic lift (bioirrigation). MSSRF play the role of socio-economic partner in India and collaborate with Swiss partners on carrying out a baseline survey at farm level to understand the farming systems, seed systems, intercropping patterns, input procurement and innovation behaviour of men and women farmers. It will be helpful to adapt and fine-tune the innovations to the needs and possibilities of resource-poor farmers in the target areas on the proposed technology in mixed cropping as well as bioinputs (Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria) applications. Furthermore, the team will assess the profitability of our innovations based on the data from the participatory on-farm trials. The research team intends to address the following research questions in collaboration with other partners in the network; For which agro-ecological conditions, intercropping patterns and types of farming households are biofertilization and polybag pre-culturing of pigeon pea profitable and feasible?; How can the planned mixed-cropping system be implemented through the concept of eco-enterprises? and In what ways and to what extent does a participatory approach add to improved adaptability and adoption of innovations?

Ecological and Social Sustainability of Land Use Choices on Paddy Wetlands

The state of Kerala’s efforts at conserving paddy lands through land use regulations and subsidies have been unsuccessful in preventing paddy lands from being converted for plantations crops or non-agriculture use. The state Agriculture Development Policy (ADP 2013) suggested providing ‘Ecological Incentive’ to paddy farmers for the environmental services they provide. In this context, the study is an attempt to estimate the environmental and social benefit, if any, provided by paddy lands, identify the key driving forces for conversion/conservation and further estimate the opportunity cost of conservation of paddy lands. The study aims to estimate a value for the ecological service provided by paddy lands and use this value in comparing the social benefit and cost of alternate land use decisions. The study combines scientific lab analysis and economic method of comparing land use choices to estimate the net environmental and economic benefits of alternate land uses among men and women farmers of different land size categories.

Climate information for risk management in Agriculture

Climate change affects agricultural productivity through shifts in rainfall patterns, changing temperature regimes and increased climate variability. This highlights the need for better quantification and predictions of climate variability for better decision making by the farming community. It is expected that access to reliable short (1 day), medium  range (3-5 days) and extended range forecasts (15 days to one month lead time) to will help in strategic farm decision making aimed at risk reduction.  In this context, the project ‘Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa” aims to investigate the use of medium range and extended range forecasts to reduce the risk and improve the productivity. The project is supported by Indian Meteorological Department, Ministry of Earth Sciences, New Delhi. MSSRF is operating one of the Agro Field Meteorological Unit in Kannivadi and developing and communicating agro advisories for medium range forecasts for six districts in south agroecological zone of Tamil Nadu since 2004-05. The main purpose is to understand the gendered traditional knowledge on weather and seasonal climate, its relevance and develop the capacity of men and women farmers to understand, interpret and use the medium range weather forecast information to make decisions at farm level related to crop management.

  1. Gender Integration and Mainstreaming (GIM) group

GIM group was evolved during 2010, have 18 senior and experienced members representing all PA’s. They function as a forum and slowly take the form of Community of Practice (self organizing) involved in knowledge sharing, peer supporting and recognized forum for learning on gender equity at the organizational level. The on-going activities are (i) Explicit mentor support to document and publish their work on inter-disciplinary aspects of Gender and Science and (ii) strengthen their capacities on gender issues through workshops and on-line discussions.

 Gender Specific Research: The projects under this category focus on women specific issues as well as approach the issue with gender lens. Currently the following projects are in operation.

Improving the access and control over productive resources and services for Single Women in Vidarbha, Maharastra

The initiative for the economic and social advancement of Single Women farmers was started in 2013 as part of the Mahila Kisan Sashakthikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) in Yevatmal and Wardha districts of Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra.  The programme started to mobilise widows of suicide farm families and eventually integrated other Single Women categories such as divorced, disserted and unmarried who are tended to be more vulnerable and marginalized; often positioned in the peripheries of the mobilization spectrum. Then as a re-strategizing mechanism a separate initiative was developed in July, 2013, the single women farmers from 40 villages of Wardha and 20 villages of Yevatmal districts, so far 640 single women members were mobilized and organized in to three taluk level clusters. Socio economic profile of these women farmers are being collected through baseline survey. At the grass root level, the project has many specific goals built around the key issues of social and economic rights. The primary objective is to build awareness on social security schemes and entitlements that relates to single women farmers, mobilizing and organizing the Single women farmers in to collective’s, promoting a cadre of community based resource persons for awareness generation and interventions related to land and land based resources and strengthening the livelihoods of Single Women.

Political economy and gender in energy sectors

‘Does a gender and political economy approach provide greater empowerment to women and girls than traditional approaches in the energy sector?’ The response to this question is expected to be provided by the project on the political economy of energy sector dynamics vis-à-vis gender, supported by ENERGIA (a network focussing on gender and energy), part of the ETC Foundation, the Netherlands. MSSRF is the lead organisation working in partnership with the Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal, as consortium partner. The research aims to contribute to the incorporation of gender concerns and women’s rights in 3 levels of energy policy — policy formulation (macro), administration (meso) and implementation (micro) — by creating better understanding of the issues through a political economy approach, studying the formal and informal power exercised in energy policy and by strengthening marginalised groups and women’s agency. The geographical scope of this project is rural and peri-urban areas in Kailali region of Nepal Koraput, Odisha in India.

Grassroots Institutions (GRI)

Foundation has been involved in Participatory Research with local communities and farmers, especially in rural and tribal areas, related to ecological restoration, conservation and management of agro-biodiversity, soil and water conservation and sustainable agriculture.  In the Participatory Research, MSSRF is adopting groups/collective approach and promoting local community-based institutions with the objectives of

  • Creating a local platform to ensure effective community participation with social equity
  • Building  new capacities and
  • Sustaining the results of the development interventions after project/programme  period

MSSRF has so far facilitated 16 GRIs under different Programme Areas either on common property or private property resources with varied objectives according to the

i.Nature and mandate of MSSRF  and 

ii.Interests and needs of the communities living in the local context.

In private property focussed institutions, objective is to strengthen the input and output value chains with gender inclusiveness, whereas in common property resources based institutions focus is given to facilitate collective action for sustainable resource management.  In both the cases social capital is promoted through collective activities identified in their respective GI’s and group/federation meetings and interactions.

Main Objectives

  1. Building capacities of the team members to facilitate sustainable institutions
  2. Developing broader guidelines and framework at the organizational level for the GRIs
  3. Providing need based support to become autonomous institutions and
  4. Carrying out research studies and innovative strategies and models


GRI focal points are identified from each Programme Area and efforts are being taken to strengthen their capacity to understand the concepts and operational processes to integrate the development services.