After being shackled in deep-rooted patriarchy for almost 25 years, the day Mogulamma got an opportunity to be in charge of her family’s farm, she did not take a second to rise up to the challenge. In the process, she broke free and formed her own identity.
Today, the 36-year-old grows millets organically in her two-acre land all by herself and is widely known cross Telangana known for cultivating 25 varieties of millets.
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In 2018, on International Women’s Day (March 8) Mogulamma received the prestigious Nari Shakti Award from President Ramnath Kovind on behalf of All India Millet Sisters Network (AIMSN), a pan India collective of women farmers across India who grow millets organically.
The recognition did not stop there. In September 2019, she travelled to New York to receive the ‘Equator Prize’ conferred by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for environmental conservation efforts.
However, when Mogulamma looks back at her journey, it still feels like a dream.
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Stepping into her Mother-In-Law’s Shoes
Mogulamma belongs to Telangana’s Potpalli Village in Sangareddy District. She got married in her early 20s, and for the next five years, she dedicated herself to the family.
What made her in-laws’ household different from the rest, was the way her mother-in-law looked after their ancestral fields while being a homemaker. She was an active member of AIMSN (All India Millet Sisters Network), an initiative started by Deccan Development Society (DDS) eight years ago to promote sustainable farming and financially empower the local women.
DDS, started by Satheesh PV, is an NGO that works for environmental causes with the help of rural women.
A couple of years ago, after her mother-in-law passed away, Mogulamma stepped in and decided to continue her legacy by occupying her position in AIMSN. Around the same time, her husband fell ill and was bed-ridden. Therefore, the pressure to earn for the family was entirely on her.
“When my family and DDS proposed that I look after millet production, I said yes immediately as it was a family legacy and also because there was no other option. But it was life-changing for me. Suddenly, I found a whole new level of respect for myself. Of course, there were apprehensions about managing both, my family and farm, but I decided to walk over my fear and take the plunge,” she recalled in a conversation with The Better India.
AIMSN and the Emancipation of Women Farmers
Use of chemicals and fertilisers is strictly prohibited. Instead, alternatives like vermicompost, farmyard manure and panchgavya are used to keep insects at bay and provide nutrition to the crops.
Explaining the reason behind choosing millets over any other crop, Satheesh tells TBI: