Surinder Kaur, 77, a progressive and successful agriculturist, started farming at a young age. Born in Lyallpur (Pakistan), she had the courage to tell her father as an adolescent that she wanted to marry a man who owned land so that she would get a chance to remain connected to the soil.
"I was lucky to meet a great woman in my mother-in-law who in her sixties used to ride a horse. She encouraged me to start a large poultry farm. In 1961, I started with just 100 fowls and successfully increased their number to 6000. Today running a poultry farm is lot easier. I used to arrange injections for the poultry back then all by myself," she says.
"I was cultivating fields, running a dairy and a poultry farm. Everything was going well till I lost my husband in 1988 during militancy in Punjab," she adds.
Kaur presently lives at a farmhouse near Talwandi Lal Singh village in Batala of Gurdaspur district.
During the terrorism era in 1980's, when everyone started shifting to cities for safety, Kaur chose to stay put.
"I got many threatening calls from the people who wanted to grab our land. For my children's upbringing, our family's livelihood I did not run away from my duty," asserts Kaur.
"There were many victims of militancy in rural areas but I stayed back unlike many. We lived alone in the village for eight years all alone. I was against giving our land on contract."
Of our six children, three were married when my husband was alive. I did not compromise on their education and today ours is a family of doctors, Ph.Ds, postgraduates, bureaucrats."
Kaur has her orchard spread over 30 acres of land in Madhopur (Pathankot).
"I got my knees transplanted. So, I am not able to cycle or do groundwork but I am still involved in orchard farming, floriculture, sugarcane cultivation, planting poplar trees, turmeric plantation etc. We make a limited use of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers," she says, while guiding the people at work.
Her daughter-in-law Rajwinder Kaur, who works in a bank, says, "She looks simple but is modern in outlook. She knows how to give every individual his or her space."
"My children supported me all this while. They drove cycles to their schools and wore hand-knit sweaters made by me. Their down-to-earth attitude helped them achieve success," she adds.
Surinder has travelled abroad for upgrading her know-how on agriculture.
"It is important to know the modern techniques used in agriculture globally. I always make it a point to buy edge cutters and automatic tools used in cultivation," Surinder informs.