At IFORHER, we are celebrating the inspiring journey of Lalita Mukati from being a home-maker to an organic farmer. Her inspiring story is a source of immense encouragement for every woman fighting to be independent.
Born in the family of farmers in the small village of Sirsala in Madhya Pradesh, Lalita Mukati is a real-life example of how a home-maker turned into an award-winning organic farmer.
Married at age of 19 to Suresh Chandra Mukati, Lalita expressed her desire to study beyond class 12. Her father-in-law, the supporter of women’s education, enrolled her in an open university to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Arts.
Like many women in India, despite having a BA degree, Lalita prioritized raising a family over everything else.
“When my kids were born, I channelised my energies towards ensuring they received a good education. Today, all five of them are in different fields” she shared with The Better India.
Her brother-in-law and husband were handling the family-owned 120 acres of land until recently when her brother-in-law got the opportunity to work in the industry.
The only person to shoulder this entire responsibility was her husband. She shared:
“My husband has completed his MSc in agriculture and travels for long hauls for training purposes. He was finding it very difficult to shuttle between his training and maintaining our farm. Often, his absence in the field would cause losses. Our children had already grown up. And so, I thought, why don’t I extend a helping hand?”
For 2010-12, Lalita learned everything from riding the tractor and scooter to coordinating among 30 farmhands!
Her consistent efforts over the last six years have helped Lalita’s farm to earn an organic scope certificate from the Madhya Pradesh State Organic Certification Agency.
From breeding earthworms that help turn farm waste into vermicompost, to selling bio or natural pesticides, to selling neem cakes or using the hydroponic method of farming – she has done multiple activities to free over 36 acres of farmland from the clutches of the chemical pesticides.
She grows all kinds of crops, ranging from Amla (Indian gooseberry), custard apple, banana, lemon, maize, cotton, wheat, and more.
Although a few crops are harvested once a year, the range of crops she grows, coupled with her chemical-free techniques, helps her earn Rs 80,000 to 1 lakh per acre of land.
Lalita has not only restricted the profits of the techniques to herself. She has in fact formed an association of 21 women to share the benefits of her methods. Till now, the association has helped the women to yield better produce and double their income.
“I constantly tell my group of women farmers to not engage in profit-earning methods of farming at the cost of the environment. These chemicals are not only draining our mother earth of her nutrients but also exposing our children to health hazards as they consume chemical-pesticide laden food. Giving up chemical pesticides may cost a few losses initially, but adopting organic farming could give us and the following generations a better and healthier tomorrow. So, say no to chemicals”
For her determination and persistence, Lalita has already received Best District Farmer Award and the Best Farm Woman Award for the introduction of organic farming in custard apple crops.
And, now she is all set to receive an award by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for her contribution to agriculture.