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Rahibai Soma Popere: ‘Seed Mother’ Awarded with Padma Shri, Know How She Ushered the Farming Revolution

Ayushi Raina
Ayushi Raina
Rahibai Soma Popere – The ‘Seed Mother’ Awarded with Padma Shr

Rahibai Soma Popere has been awarded the Padma Shri by President Ram Nath Kovind for her contributions to agriculture. The President of India's official Twitter account also shared a photo of the President of India bestowing the country's fourth-highest civilian national honor to Rahibai Soma Popere, also known as 'beej mata' or 'seed mother.'

Rahibai Soma Popere, a native of Ahmednagar's Akola tehsil's isolated Kombhalne hamlet, has been awarded the Padma Shri. The prizes were announced in January 2020 and were conferred on Monday, November 8 at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

A year earlier, a three-minute short film on Rahibai Popere's anti-hybrid seed campaign by a city-based filmmaker had won third place in the international section of Nespresso Talents 2019 at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival.

Who is Padma Shri Rahibai Soma Popere?

Rahibai Soma Popere, also known as the SEED Mother for her work in conserving indigenous seeds and a member of the BAIF Development Research Foundation, a Core Support Group of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has been awarded the fourth highest civilian national award Padma Shree for her contributions to agriculture.

She has worked for the preservation of hundreds of native varieties and the encouragement of farmers to grow traditional crops. She has also made it a life goal to raise awareness about organic farming, agro-biodiversity, and wild food resources.

Popere is a 52-year-old tribal farmer from the Mahadeo Koli Tribal community of Komblne village in the Akole tribal block of Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district. Due to poverty, she was unable to attend school and began supporting her family via agricultural work in agro labour and cow rearing when she was 10 years old. At the age of 17, she married Soma Popere, who was also uneducated.

Agriculture provided a living for the entire family. Despite her lack of formal education, she learned about agro biodiversity, wild food resources, and traditional culture via practise and experience.

She became an expert in the SRI paddy cultivation method, improved tomato and hyacinth bean cultivation practises, introduced participatory seed selection, organic farming techniques (vermicomposting, vermiwash, natural pest repellents), nursery establishment, and trained over 3500 farmers in Ahmednagar district.

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