Ramrati Devi, a champion of organic farming
In Sarpataha village, 35 km from Gorakhpur city, Ramrati Devi is one of the few people who have a pucca house. But that is not the only thing that sets apart this 56-year-old grandmother of two. She is also a model farmer.
Ramrati took up agriculture 15 years back, when her husband Ram Bahal, 60, gave it up left it due to poor health.
"Men gave up farming because of the poor yield, but I didn't. I learned organic and multi-crop farming. Today I get a better yield than my husband ever managed," she says with a grin.
Besides wheat and mustard, Ramrati grows sugarcane, garlic, coriander, spinach, potato and mustard for daily use. In all, she grows 32 different crops (cash and food) every year.
In recognition of her efforts as a successful micro entrepreneur, she was given a cash award of Rs one lakh by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), New Delhi, in 2011.
Today, her one acre of land yields enough produce to support a family of 12, buy livestock, put away money for the future, spend on "little luxuries" such as an electric pump, a two-wheeler for her son, the pucca house and also ensure her grandchildren go to school.
Ramrati has not stopped at her own success. She also spreads the word about the benefits of organic farming among fellow villagers. They come to her field and watch her work, while she tells them about the harmful effect of chemicals, the benefits of organic compost fertilizer and the art of sustainable mixed farming.