Fruits of labour
Entrepreneur Rama Bisht has turned around a life of challenges. Today, her fruit processing unit adds value to 50 self-help groups, writes Narendra Sethi
UTTARAKHAND: Born in 1982, Rama Bisht has gone through many challenges in her life. The resident of Okhalkanda in Nainital is now the proud owner of a fruit processing unit, Apple Zone Ramgarh. Bisht’s unit, in one of the state’s fruit belts, is a pacesetter for 50 self-help groups from whom she buys raw fruits and processes them in a successful business model.
However, the journey was one of distress and struggle. From the young age of 12, this daughter of an agriculturalist has seen huge losses to her family’s property owing to natural disasters. Bogged down by the dearth of money back home, Rama decided to continue her studies with full dedication.
In 2002, Rama cleared Uttarakhand’s competitive police exam, but it may be called a vicious cycle of luck that Rama was not allowed to join the force by her father Tej Singh Bisht, who had said that ‘girls are often exploited in the police’. Within a month, Rama was married off by her family to Jitendra Singh Bisht of Nathuakhan of Nainital.
For Rama, the domestic misfortunes did not end there as the same was the case in her in-laws’ house. “Due to severe financial constraints, I had to suppress my desires many times to buy even the smallest things like bangles and bindi,” Rama told this newspaper.
“But instead of distancing myself from desires, I learned to take them in stride and then luck also started following me,” Rama said.“Given the fruit belt area of our village as well as the economic condition of my in-laws, the idea of conceiving homemade products from fruits came to mind,” Rama told this newspaper.
“I bought small and ripe fruits that could not find a market for local cultivators and started making jams, chutneys, juices, pickles and other products from them,” Rama said.
“God almighty also gave me the wonderful and invisible power to fight situations. Adversities would often disappoint me for a little while, but the next moment I would manage to find new energy and double the enthusiasm,” Rama said with a smile on her face and confidence in her voice.
“With gradual struggles, I basically continued with agriculture and horticulture, while moonlighted as an agent of the Life Insurance Corporation,” Rama said. “With these jobs, I did my graduation and with degrees in education and then completed higher education in Social Work,” Rama said.
“During gardening, I noticed that there are many herbs on the foothills, which are disappearing due to lack of new generation farming trends,” lamented Rama. “I started paying attention to it and planted herbs along with gardening,” Rama Bisht elaborated. “At present, we produce many types of herbs such as, thyme, oregano, rosemary, lemon grass, lemon balm, mint, basil, rose geranium, aloe vera, ashwagandha, sarpagandha, bay leaf, giloy, arjuna and others,” Rama said.
“When I set up our own fruit processing unit in 2002, people used to bring fruits from their homes and we used to make products for them at minimum prices,” said Rama. “Today we bring out over 100 different products through Apple Zone Ramgarh,” Rama said.
This entrepreneur has been honoured with more than two dozen awards during this campaign of struggle to succeed in her life. She was awarded the national-level Saras award in 2019. In 2020, she was given the Uttarayani Mela award at the historical farming festival in the state, followed by the Maa Nanda Shakti Samman 2023 instituted by the National Uttarakhand Mahasabha.
Rama has set up a food processing unit at a cost of Rs 25 lakh with her own efforts and pays an EMI of Rs 47,000 and all the women in the village feel happy to work with her.