Pooja Sharma

(Cereal Processing)

Story of A Strong Willed Woman Who Stepped Forward to Support Her Husband in Managing Family’s Livelihood through Farming

In our Indian Society, a notion has been deep rooted in our minds that woman should be at home and men should earn. But still, there are many women who bear the tag of bread earner very confidently in a positive way and help their husbands in running and supporting the house needs. One such a woman who is helping his husband in fulfilling her house needs is Pooja Sharma.

Mrs. Pooja Sharma is a rising agripreneur from the land of Jats – Haryana, and currently, she is the president of Kshitiz Self-Help Group and leading women of her village (Chandu) under her. By using the innovative farming technique she is producing 11 varieties of ready to cook and ready to eat items made up of soybean, wheat, maize, pearl millet, and corn.

The decision of making a move in the field of farming was taken in 2012 when Pooja Sharma (mother of three children) realized that her house needs aren’t going to be fulfilled with just his husband (Government Contract Employee) earnings, and now it’s her responsibility to support her husband.

She joined KVK Shikoupur and told them to teach her things that will help her earn a livelihood. She took training from there and learned innovative farming techniques. There she learned how to process the soybeans and other cereals so that it can be directly used for eating. And after taking this training she encouraged other women of her neighbourhood and village to take the same training.

In 2013, she established her own small manufacturing unit of roasted soybeans at home and also involved other women of her village in her venture and slowly expanded her business. She also made a self-help group by the name Kshitiz SHG and involved and encouraged more women of her village to join it. By collecting all the savings of the group’s women, she purchased three more roasting machines. And after some time she collected more money and purchased two more machines.

Currently, their group has 7 units of manufacturing machines. The machines were expensive according to their budget but still, they managed and it cost them around Rs. 16,000 and Rs. 20,000 per piece. She has 1.25 acres of land and she is actively involved in farming also. She grows mostly those crops of pulses and cereals, so that, she can process it and use it later for selling purpose. She is teaching the same thing to other women of her village also to use their land effectively because it can benefit them in the future.

Along with the team of 11 women today she is processing and selling more than 11 varieties of products (millet khichadi, millet laddoo, roasted wheat grains, roasted sorghum, roasted soy beans, roasted Bengal grams) which are ready to eat and cook (wholesome packets of nutrients) across the states and country. With the willpower, Pooja Sharma has helped other women of her village to gain self-reliance and confidence.

For her, it has been a long journey to reach where she is today and she has faced many challenges also. Now they have setup the machines at their home, so that women can operate it at home when they are free; and in their village, as power cuts are very frequent, so they have divided their work according to that; some women dry up the beans, some clean them and the rest of the women roast and grind them.

Currently, the big problem that Pooja Sharma and group face sometimes is language barriers (English). Because when it comes to communicating with big companies then they realize that in which skill they are lacking the most and that is education. But they are not discouraged by it and are trying to work on it. Apart of manufacturing food items, she is also helping women acquire training in stitching, farming and other activities they are interested in.

Her future plans are to expand his business and inspire more women and make them independent so that they don’t have to be dependent on others for money. For her passionate work and effort, she has been awarded a cash prize of 50,000 and a citation certificate for innovative farming techniques with Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Krishi Puraskar from Zone II comprising states of Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi. She is also a member of ATMA SCHEME and she has also received appreciation by the Governor- Kaptan Singh Solanki, for making protein-rich food items.

“Wherever farmers cultivate cereal, pulse or any crop, there they should create a group of those women who are just doing household work and train them to use the produced crops for making good things by processing them, so that they can sell those things in the market and get a good price for it.”