06-12-2017 11:30 AM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream
Changing fortunes of hundreds of women
Anita Devi is a simple village woman, but her work has made her larger than life. Her will to earn and be independent not only improved her life but also changed the fortunes of several hundreds of women in her village.
Anita Devi who is in her late forties hails from Anantpur in Nalanda and is a home science graduate. She was desperate to earn and approached the Krishi Vigyan Kendra in her district. They advised her to grow mushrooms and from there began her journey of success.
She started mushroom farming in 2010 after training at Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agriculture University in Samastipur, Bihar, and GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in Uttarakhand. This was a totally new venture for Anita Devi who had to face taunts and words of discouragement from villagers. Now the same women who taunted her are cultivating mushrooms and have become earning members, no longer dependent on their husbands and family.
Mushroom farming has rendered a steady source of income for Anita Devi and her family. Earlier, the family was struggling financially, but now her husband has opened a garment shop. Her sons are studying horticulture and the only daughter is doing B. Ed.
Growing organic mushrooms has not only empowered her and hundreds of other women but also has given a boost to the rural economy. Her success story was a source of encouragement for dozens of women from her village to start mushroom farming, followed by women from neighbouring villages. In 2012, the state agriculture department declared her Anantpur village as Mushroom Village. The people of the village started calling her Mushroom Mahila (Mushroom Lady) for her success in popularising mushroom cultivation.
Anita Devi was not one to rest on her laurels. She started the Madhopur Farmers Producers Company, which she runs out of her newly-built house, to involve more women from neighbouring villages in organic mushroom cultivation.
The profit they earn is two to threefold. As mushrooms can be grown easily in houses without any investment, this has become a simple, viable and profitable venture for the village women. They have successfully changed their status from poverty-stricken to prosperous.
Anita Devi continued with her mission and two years ago, she set up a high-tech lab for mushroom seed production after getting financial help under the National Horticulture Mission. She had realized that as more and more women started taking up mushroom farming there was a huge demand for seeds and they were not locally available. So she set up the mushroom seed production facility at Anantpur.
Anita Devi now sells mushroom seeds to small-scale growers, mostly women, NGOs and government agencies.
Anita Devi’s dream and her ability to realize it helped her and hundreds of women to pull themselves out of poverty. She became an icon of mushroom growing in Nalanda which is now known for mushroom farming in Bihar.