54-year-old Rahibai Soma Popere is a self-made expert in the subjects of agro-biodiversity, landrace conservation, and several innovative techniques in the cultivation of paddy crops.
Hailing from Kombhalne village located in Akole block of Ahmednagar district in the state of Maharashtra, she has no formal education; has worked on farms all her life, and has an extraordinary understanding of crop diversity.
For her contributions, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research honoured her with the title ‘Seed Mother’.
Popere focuses on women-led agro-biodiversity. She has conserved almost fifty acres of ingenious farmland, where she grows 17 different crops. She was visited by the BAIF Development Research Foundation in 2017, who found that the gardens she supported had enough produce to meet the dietary requirements of a family for a whole year.
She developed a series of hyacinth beans for self-help groups and families in nearby villages. She has created her own methods to harvest water on farms; turning wasteland into space she can use productively. She trains farmers and students on ways to select seeds, keep fertile soils, and manage pests. She is skilled in four-step paddy cultivation. She has learned to rear poultry in her yard with the support of the Maharashtra Institute of Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (MITTRA). She is also an active member of the self-help group Kalsubai Parisar Biyanee Savardhan Samiti (Committee for seed conservation in the Kalsubai region).
- BBC 100 Women 2018
- The Best Seed Saver award
- BAIF Development Research Foundation Best Farmer Award
- Nari Shakti Puraskar, 2018, instituted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.
- Padma Shri, 2020
Additionally, in January 2015, she received appreciation from Prem Mathur, Honorary Research Fellow at Bioversity International, and R. R. Hanchinal, Chairperson of a government body for the protection of plant varieties and farmers’ rights in India.