Girl who ploughed her own furrow: 25-yr-old U'khand woman runs farm, trains locals on cultivation

Today, Babita has become a source of inspiration for hundreds of village women, who she trained in mushroom and vegetable farming, besides allied fields.

Published: 24th October 2021 07:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th October 2021 07:52 AM   |  A+A-

Snapshots of Babita at her field, posing with her produce and toiling the land.

UTTARAKHAND:  Babita Rawat, 25, was hardly a teenager when her father, the only earning member in the family, fell seriously ill about 12 years ago. “I did not know how to save my father, take care of my six younger siblings and continue my studies. With the support of my mother, we decided not to give up,” says Babita, a resident of Saur Umrela village of Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand.

The family had to borrow money from friends and relatives to rebuild their lives. For months, Babita and her siblings had to wash and wear the same clothes/uniforms to school, as they could not afford a second set. That’s when the family decided to take up cattle rearing and farming on their ancestral 17 naali (about an acre) farmland; majority of which was lying barren.

Today, Babita has become a source of inspiration for hundreds of village women, who she trained in mushroom and vegetable farming, besides allied fields. She is a recipient of an annual award by the Uttarakhand government, given to women for their exemplary contribution to society. Babita is a postgraduate and has gained the status of a youth icon.

Neelam Chauhan, a resident from the district who attended a mushroom-farming workshop by Babita, now earns Rs 5,000-8,000 per month by growing vegetables such as brinjal, tomato, cabbage, and capsicum, among others.

Years ago, Babita would wake up at 4am, tend to the cattle, milk the dairy animals and walk over 5 km to her school. On the way, she sold the milk and the money earned remained the only source of income for her family for a long time. With time, she took up ploughing the fields with a pair of oxen and traditional plough in tow. 

“We used to toil amid songs being played on the radio for 6-8 hours to eke out a living. Our hard work helped us with our father’s medical treatment, education and daily expenses,” says Babita.  Her farm produce, vegetables, milk and mushrooms are sold in the local market only in the Rudraprayag district headquarters and Tilwada area of the hill district.

“I don’t need to find a market in another district or state. We save on the transportation cost along with time and energy. This local ecosystem is benefitting hundreds of women and I am glad to be a part of this,” says Babita. On a personal front, three of her sisters are married, one younger brother and sister are pursuing their education without any hassle. 

“I feel happy to see my family getting back on track. I think tragedies and shocks happen in life for a reason. I thank everyone who supported me through my journey and urge everyone not to give up without putting up a fight,” says Babita, who still toils for 6-8 hours in her farm, fields and the mushroom project.


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