Agriculture forms the backbone of the Indian economy, contributing to the country’s GDP and socio-economic development. For many years, the agricultural sector has been largely driven by men. But recently, there has been a ‘feminization’ of agriculture with almost 84% of women in rural India being dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. However, despite the large contribution of women to farming, there are several social and economic inequalities faced by women farmers. From lack of access to inputs like seeds and fertilizers, inequality in terms of land ownership, or even a complete lack of voice in decision-making, we need several reforms in place to empower women farmers. But amidst all these challenges, many women farmers have pushed the boundaries and carved a niche for themselves in the field of agriculture.
     


In this article, we bring to you the inspirational stories of 5 such progressive women farmers.
     

1. Ms. Nabanita Das – From a nurse to a progressive farmer, Nabanita from the town of Jorhat has paved a successful journey in the field of organic farming. Although she completed her high school education and then got trained as an auxiliary nurse, she found her passion for organic farming in 2010 and set up ‘Nabanita Organic Farm’. Over the next few years, she attended many training programs on Horticultural crops, which helped her make significant progress toward her entrepreneurial mission. Currently, her farm is extremely profitable as she grows many varieties of flowers along with rice, pulses, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables, fish, eggs, milk, poultry, and more. What is unique about her farm is the optimum utilization of space including vertical space to grow maximum output. She has bagged several awards for her outstanding contribution to the field of agriculture.
You can read more about her here


2. Smt. Suchitra Roy – Smt. Suchitra Roy from Kokrajhar District took up farming after the death of her husband. Faced with the financial challenge of a meager pension and 2 family members- her mother-in-law and son to take care of, she found agriculture to be a stable source of income. Over her 11 bighas of total landholding, her household and home garden cover 2 bighas and the remaining 9 bighas cover her paddy crop during the Kharif season and potato crop during the Rabi season. Other crops grown on the field are mushrooms, pulse crops like black gram, and other vegetable crops like mustard, ladyfinger, tomato, etc. When she started, her income was fairly low, but the training and inputs from the government have helped her understand modern crop cultivation practices and increase her income to lakhs of rupees. She has also diversified into pickle making business and also started an award-winning incense sticks enterprise called Suprabhat Enterprise where she employs women from the local community.
You can read more about her here


3. Smt. Asma M. Hombal – This 29-year-old woman from Bagalkot District has emerged as a progressive Indian farmer. After completing her graduation, she pursued the road less taken and started practicing farming. Her family had been cultivating one of the most important commercial crops, Betelvine in Karnataka for ages but Ashma analyzed the demands of the local market and added crops like bananas and coconuts in her field. Through training and guidance, she has learned tactics like market research, direct marketing, and resource optimization to grow her farm. Ashma cultivates Betelvine on 3 acres of land earning a profit of 36,000 per month, bananas on 2 acres earning Rs 50,000 profit per month, and 200 coconut plants earning Rs 50,000 profit per month. Additionally, she also grows vegetables, cowpea, drumstick, neem trees, guava, curry leaves, etc. On her farm, you can also find livestock that helps with manure, and meet her family’s nutrition. Her husband, who is a lawyer, also supports her in the procurement of inputs. Her spending on labor is also very low since her joint family of 6 members supports her in manual farm work.
You can read more about her here


4. Ms. Amarjit Kaur – Aged 32 years, Ms. Amarjit Kaur took to farming when her father who was a farmer was diagnosed with paralysis in 2007. Over her 3.4 ha land, she has set up a small dairy unit with 2 buffaloes. She practices three cropping patterns on her farm-  1. Rice-wheat-moong 2. Sugarcane-Onion-Ratoon and 3. Potato-Onion-Fodder. Her farm is equipped with all the modern-day machinery- submersible tubewell, tractor, M.B. plough, disc harrow, happy seeder, DSR, etc. She has also found a way to directly market her farm to customers through social media, her website, and a youtube channel. Two years ago, she shifted to organic farming to reduce chemicals and support the environment. With her hard work and proper guidance, she now earns an annual income of 6.7 lakhs and has also won several awards at the district level. Many women in the district look up to her and want to follow in her footsteps.


5. Ms. Vevohulu Churhah – Coming from an agricultural family in Nagaland, Vevohulu spent many years of her childhood helping her mother on the farm. After graduating in 2010 in the field of arts and literature, she worked as an accountant for a few years before she ventured into agriculture. She set up a piggery unit in collaboration with a friend. However, all her pigs died shortly thereafter due to an epidemic. But she chose to give it another try and set up a duckery enterprise for 200 Khaki Campbell ducks. This breed lays 280-300 eggs per year and can easily withstand cold, hot, humid, and arid conditions well. Today, she has become an established entrepreneur as these ducks produce nearly 40,000 eggs in one year which she supplies to nearby markets where demand is high. She has also diversified and started a livestock feed, supplement, and duckling supply outlet. Seeing the success of her business, many in her district have taken up commercial duck farming.
You can read more about her here
     
Through this article, we aim to inspire many more women to take up farming and build themselves as profitable agripreneurs.

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