Breaking Ground: Read about the Padma Shri Women Awardees Revolutionizing in Agriculture & Allied Sector

1. "Potato Queen" of Bihar- Ms. Rajkumari Devi

As the "Potato Queen" of Bihar, Ms. Rajkumari Devi is a farmer and agricultural entrepreneur who have made substantial contributions to the country's potato business. Ms. Devi overcame a number of obstacles as a woman farmer in a sector that was predominately male, but she persisted and eventually found success in the potato industry.

She was one of the first cultivators in Bihar to embrace cutting-edge farming practises, like the use of premium fertilisers and seeds, and to sell her produce directly to consumers. She also started a women's self-help organisation called "Mahila Sabla Sangh" to support and encourage rural women who want to start their own businesses. In 2019, Ms. Devi received the Padma Shri, one of India's highest civilian accolades, in recognition of her contributions to agriculture. Through her efforts and campaigning, she continues to inspire and encourage farmers today, particularly women.

2. "A pioneer in organic farming and sustainability"- Ms. Kamala Pujari

From the Indian state of Odisha's Kalahandi district, Ms. Kamala Pujari is a farmer and social activist. She has a reputation for advancing organic farming. She has made significant contributions to the field of organic farming after becoming interested in traditional farming and studying the fundamental methods at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Jetport. Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour, was bestowed upon her. She made the decision to create her own farm and began experimenting with conventional and organic agricultural techniques.

She also got involved in community organisation and activism, pushing for the advancement of sustainable farming methods and the empowerment of women farmers. In order to assist farmers in marketing their goods and raising their incomes, she has also formed farmer groups and cooperatives. For her efforts, Ms. Pujari has won a number of honours, including the National Prize for Innovation in Agriculture in 2019. Through her efforts and campaigning, she continues to inspire and encourage farmers today, particularly women.

3. “A innovator in the field of sustainable agriculture”- Ms. Madurai Chinna Pillai

Born in 1956 in a small village in Tamil Nadu, She faced many obstacles in her early life, including poverty and gender discrimination, but she was determined to make a difference. Despite these challenges, In the 1980s, Madurai Chinna Pillai established the Women's Development Society (WDS) in Tamil Nadu with the goal of empowering women through education, training, and economic opportunities.

Her contributions to sustainable agriculture rank among her most notable accomplishments. She understood that many of the rural Indian women who were skilled farmers lacked access to the tools and knowledge they needed to increase their yields and profits. In response, she created "Zero Budget Natural Farming" (ZBNF), to increase productivity and reduce costs through natural fertilisers, composting and intercropping.

The ZBNF programme has been enormously successful under Madurai Chinna Pillai's leadership, with thousands of farmers across India adopting its methods. Internationally, the programme has been recognised for its contribution to sustainable agriculture and rural development.

Madurai Chinna Pillai received numerous awards and honours in recognition of her contributions to India's social and economic development, including the prestigious Padma Shri award from the Government of India in 2019. Thousands of lives were impacted by her work, and even though she passed away in 2020, her legacy continues thanks to the organisations and initiatives she founded

4. "Tree Mother" of India - Ms. Saalumarada Thimmakka [Late]

Saalumarada Thimmakka was a Karnataka-born Indian environmentalist and social activist who dedicated her life to tree planting and environmental conservation. Thimmakka's career as an environmentalist began in the 1960s, when she was working as a quarry labourer. She and her husband started planting trees along the road near her village to provide shade for travellers. Thousands of trees were planted and nurtured by the couple over the years, often in areas where deforestation had taken a heavy toll.

Thimmakka became known as India's "Tree Mother," and her efforts earned her numerous accolades and awards. In recognition of her environmental contributions, she was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India's highest civilian honours, in 2019.

She worked to promote organic farming practises and the collection of rainwater in addition to planting trees. She also established the "Saalumarada Thimmakka International Foundation" to carry on her environmental conservation work as well as to promote education and health initiatives in rural communities.

At 107 years old, Thimmakka passed away in 2021, but her legacy endures thanks to her work and the numerous people she impacted through her activism.

5. “Lady Tarzan of Jharkhand"- Ms. Jamuna Tudu

Ms. Jamuna Tudu, also known as the "Lady Tarzan of Jharkhand " is an Indian environmentalist and social activist who spent her childhood in close proximity to nature and has dedicated her life to protect forests and wildlife. She formed a group called the "Van Suraksha Samiti" (Forest Protection Committee) in her village to protect the forests from illegal logging and poaching.

Tudu's work has earned her numerous accolades, including the prestigious "Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar" in 2019. She was also named one of the "Top 100 Influential Women in the World" by the BBC in 2020.

In addition to her work in environmental conservation, Tudu is also a vocal advocate for women's rights and gender equality. She has worked to empower women in her community through education and training programs, and has also fought against child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence.

Her dedication to conservation and her tireless efforts to protect forests and wildlife serve as an inspiration to others who seek to make a positive impact on the world.

6. "Seed Mother” - Ms. Rahibaisoma Popere

Rahibai Soma Popere, 54, is a self-made expert in the fields of agro-biodiversity, landrace conservation, and several innovative paddy crop cultivation techniques. She is a conservationist and an Indian farmer.

She assists other farmers in returning to native crop varieties by preparing hyacinth beans for self-help groups. Rahibai was also instrumental in establishing the 'Kalsubai Parisar Biyanee Savardhan Samiti' in Akole, Ahmednagar district. She has also formed farmer groups and cooperatives to assist farmers in marketing their goods and increasing their incomes. Ms. Popere received the Nari Shakti Puraskar, one of India's highest civilian honours for women, in 2019 in recognition of her contributions to society. Popularly known as 'Seed Mother',

she is a tribal farmer from Mahadeo Koli, Tribal community from Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra". She continues to inspire and encourage farmers today, particularly women, through her efforts and campaigning. President Kovind bestows the Padma Shri award on Smt. Rahibai Soma Popere for her contributions to agriculture in 2020.

7. “A bonfire of hope for women everywhere”- Ms. Trinity Saioo

From Meghalaya, India, Ms. Trinity Saioo is a farmer and social activist. She is renowned for her work empowering women farmers and advancing sustainable agriculture while preserving traditional seeds. Ms. Saioo is a fervent supporter of the advancement of women in agriculture. In order to assist women farmers in developing their abilities and gaining confidence, she has organised training sessions and workshops for them.

She has also established the "Sawmlyngdoh Women Farmers Cooperative," a women's cooperative, to assist female farmers in marketing their goods and raising their earnings. In addition to the National Youth Award in 2018 and the Nari Shakti Puraskar, one of India's highest civilian accolades for women, in 2020, Ms. Saioo has won other awards for her efforts. Through her efforts and campaigning, she continues to inspire and encourage farmers today, particularly women.

8. “Encyclopaedia of Forests” - Tulsi Gowda

Tulsi Gowda is a conservationist and environmental activist from the Indian state of Karnataka. She has devoted herself to the preservation of South India's Western Ghats, a mountain range and biodiversity hotspot.

Gowda has played a key role in organising and leading protests against the construction of dams and other infrastructure projects in the Western Ghats, which would irrecoverably distress the ecosystem and endanger the livelihoods of the region's indigenous communities.

Tulsi Gowda is now known as the "Encyclopedia of Forests" due to her extensive knowledge of various plant and herb species.

President Kovind bestows the Padma Shri to Ms Tulsi Gowda for her contributions to social work. She has planted over 30,000 saplings and has been involved in environmental conservation activities for over six decades.

9. “A symbol of hope of hope, whose spirit shines bright even at 105”- Ms. Pappammal

APappammal (or Papammal, born 1914) is an Indian organic farmer who was born in Tamil Nadu. She is thought to be the oldest farmer who is still working in the field at the age of 105. She is a pioneer in the agricultural industry and is connected to the school of education at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. Papammal developed an early interest in farming methods.

She made money by reselling food and drinks from a temporary store her grandmother left her. She used the funds to purchase 10 acres of property to grow corn and pulses. She received the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian accolade, in 2021 in recognition of her work in organic farming. Her uncomplicated outlook helped her achieve remarkable success. She was inspired by a nine-decade trip filled with a great deal of happiness and anxious periods. And now she serves as an example for all of us. Unexpectedly, she continues to participate in agricultural events.

10. “A voice for the voiceless, who spoke out on behalf of the Kosi River” -Ms. Basanti Devi

64-year-old Basanti Devi received the Nari Shakti Puraskaar in 2016 and the Padma Shri in 2022 for her environmental efforts. Basanti Devi, who grew up in the Uttarakhand village of Pithoragarh, has always been surrounded by nature. The villagers, including herself, had always relied on the Kosi River for their daily water requirements. She discovered the Kosi River was in danger due to increased deforestation while reading a newspaper article in 2003. She felt compelled to help save the river and surrounding forests.

Basanti began visiting nearby villages to encourage the women to join her mission. Over the course of 20 years, hundreds of women from 200 villages clubbed together to protect the trees, plant more of them, and thus save the river.

The forests were eventually revived and streams became perennial thanks to the collective effort of the communities formed in each village. The 'Save Kosi Movement' is still going on today.

11. "Vechur Amma" - Ms. Sosamma Iype

Sosamma Iype is an Indian animal conservationist from Niranam in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district. She was the former Head of the Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding at Kerala Veterinary University and was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2022 for her contributions to the conservation of the Vechur cow, a native breed of cattle.

Since 1988, she has been a leader in the conservation of the Vechur breed of cows. The following year, she and a few other like-minded individuals established the Vechur Conservation Trust. The team only had eight Vechur cows, which they found in various parts of Kerala. Later, the movement grew so popular that many organisations joined the mission to save the breed.

Her nickname, "Vechur Amma," which means "mother of Vechur cows," comes from her lifelong commitment to the preservation of Vechur cows.