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Women’s Day 2021: Krishi Jagran Salutes the Padma Shri Awardee Women Farmers of India

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March around the world. It is a focal point in the movement for women's right across the globe. However, India that ranked 112th in World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index has a long way to go to reach its milestone in gender equality.

The roles of Indian women are still trapped in certain boxes due to societal stereotyping.  India which is also known as the land of customs, rituals and laws is still not able to come out from its old box shaped by the society. 

Agriculture, the primary occupation of half of Indian population is still believed to be patriarchal. Moreover, the gender gap is so high in this role that very few come out to take up this occupation or passion due to societal pressure and stereotyping.  

Let’s meet two vibrant ladies who break this societal barrier and the chain of stereotyping against woman. 

Organic farming pioneer: 105-year-old woman farmer from Coimbatore  

Noted agriculturist and farmer Pappammal from Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore was among 10 personalities who were bestowed with the Padma Shri awards, the fourth highest civilian award in India, on the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day. 

Pappammal, or Papammal is an organic farmer from Tamil Nadu, India. At the age of 105, she is argued to be the oldest farmer still active in the field. She is regarded as a pioneer in the agriculture field and is affiliated with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University's department of education. 

105-year-old woman Pappammal is still active, tending to her field in Thekkampatti, a village on the banks of river Bhavani. Pappammal continues to organically cultivate millets, pulses, and vegetables across her 2.5-acre field. 

It is nearly impossible to hold a conversation with 105-year-old R Pappammal while she welcomes a steady stream of relatives, friends, and journalists to her home in Thekkampatti village near Coimbatore. Not when she insists on feeding every one of them. 

Pappammal came from a family of agriculturists who owns a 2.5-acre farm in her village, and in the past, grew lentils such as horse gram and green gram. Now, she mostly grows bananas. Over the years, she has worked closely with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. She would travel alone to their many farmers’ meets and implement all that she learned. 

Rajkumari Devi
Rajkumari Devi

Kisan Chachi’ aka Rajkumari Devi

is famously known as Kisan Chachi, which translates to ‘Farmer Aunty’. 

Hailing from the small village of Anandpur, in Saraiya block of Muzaffarpur, this farmer cycles through different villages while giving people tips on kitchen farming. As per reports, she inspired women to form self-help groups and become financially independent through farming and small scale businesses. 

But everything was not bed of roses for her, moreover it’s like walking in thrones. 

In the 1980s, Rajkumari was pushed to pick up the shovel and sickle to help her unemployed husband. At the time, when he and other farmers in the village only grew tobacco leaves, she decided to do something different. 

When her husband was off selling the leaves, she toiled alone to became acquainted with her one-acre land. She divided it into plots grew vegetables and local fruits. 

Many seemed unsure about how a woman farmer would crack the code; even nature seemed to test her when the annual floods damaged her crops. 

But Rajkumari did not give up. She used the low-lying fields to grow paddy and wheat and used the rest of the space to grow bananas, mangoes, and papayas. 

This time, her efforts paid off. 

Soon, fellow farmers turned to her expertise, and she graciously shared her learnings. Thanks to her, the fields in her block do not lie arid. She also set up a non-profit, Anandpur Jyoti Centre, along with her oldest son, Amrendra, to pick up fresh produce from different SHG-run farms. It employs women to make processed products like jams, jellies, and pickles.  

It is an honour for Krishi Jagran to write about these two great women farmers who have proved that nothing is impossible in this world. A big salute to them…..

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