Left bereft after hubby’s death, Sitapur woman harvests success in her sugarcane farm
To recognise Kaur’s work, chief minister Yogi Adityanath felicitated her at a convention held for progressive farmers in July 2022.
LUCKNOW Widowed in 2015 with four children to take care of, Sitapur-resident Paramjit Kaur found it extremely challenging to come to terms with the loss of her husband, who managed a 20-acre sugarcane farm. Struggling to overcome her grief, Kaur even turned into a recluse for some time but the reality of life soon kicked in, and she was forced to think of ways to earn to provide for her kids.
As she had no farming experience, she contacted the DCM sugar mills office in Hariyawan, Hardoi, seeking advice on how to look after her 20 acres of unyielding land. Little did she know that this meeting would change the course of her life. During this conversation, Anuj Chauhan, representative of DCM Shriram Sugar Limited, urged her to revive the land and take on farming.
Eight years hence, Kaur is not just doing well for herself but also heads more than a dozen women from a self-help group who work in her sugarcane nursery. The 55-year-old, who never even rode a motorbike before 2015, can often be seen driving the tractor in her farms. According to Kaur, she makes over ₹1 lakh per acre from sugarcane production. Meanwhile, the women working in her nursery earn ₹12,000-13,000 after every yield.
To recognise Kaur’s work, chief minister Yogi Adityanath felicitated her at a convention held for progressive farmers in July 2022. Besides her, 600 other farmers were also feted at the event. “It was not easy to pick the pieces of my life after my husband’s death. I had no confidence in myself. I was afraid of judgmental stares if I took up farming but I had to do it to take care of my family, my children,” said Kaur.
Sharing her journey, Kaur added, “Initially, I learned farming techniques like drip irrigation and started implementing them. Parallelly, I also learnt driving. I started with a mini-tractor but have now bought a bigger one. It was a little scary at first as I had never driven anything before. Gradually, I started making money and was able to marry off my daughter and provide my son with education.”
Following the Covid outbreak in 2020, the Indian government made provisions for women’s self-help groups to avail business opportunities. With assistance and funding from the agriculture department, Kaur now oversees a sugarcane nursery, where she assembled a SHG in Sitapur.
At present, 12 women from the SHG are employed there. They are paid ₹12,000-13,000 after every yield. Kaur, along with other women of Sitapur, grow and supply sugarcane to mills in different districts of Uttar Pradesh, which subsequently gets processed into sugar and is distributed across the country.
Recently, Kaur was invited to the U.P. Council of Sugarcane Research, where scientists taught her ways to medicate the crop in order to avoid red rot in her sugarcane yield, more commonly called the ‘cancer of sugarcane’. Speaking on her inspirational success, Anuj Chauhan said, “Her achievement motivates several women. She may be the only woman of her age driving a tractor and managing an entire farm on her own. I have not seen anyone like her around here.”