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They Call Me ‘Queen of Millets’: How One Woman is Preserving Rare Indian Millets

Hailing from Odisha’s Koraput district, Raimati Ghiuria has preserved more than 30 varieties of Indian millets so far. Watch this video to learn about her lifelong love for agriculture and conservation.

They Call Me ‘Queen of Millets’: How One Woman is Preserving Rare Indian Millets

Fondly called the ‘Queen of Millet’, Raimati Ghiuria, a tribal farmer from Odisha, has preserved 72 traditional paddy varieties and at least 30 varieties of millets — including Kundra bati mandia, jasra, juana, and jamkoli.

Hailing from an agricultural family from a small tribal village in Odisha’s Koraput district, a young Raimati was inspired by Padma Shri awardee Kamala Pujari. The 70-year-old farmer taught Raimati traditional cultivation techniques like initiating pollination in crops and conservation of various kinds of native grains.

“Now, I do not remember any of the teachings from school, I only know how to conserve and grow millets that I learnt on the field,” Raimati smiles.

Though she was married off at the young age of 16, she did not give up her dream of collecting and preserving millet varieties despite having to participate in household chores. Over the years, she adopted better technology and scientific farming methods to improve the yield and quality of millet farming.

Later, with Kamala’s help, she associated with a Chennai-based non-profit called MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), where she learned the skill of modern conservation, helping more women gain employment in rural areas. She has trained around 2,500 farmers in millet farming so far.

For Raimati, millet cultivation transformed her life. She now leads a self-help group of women farmers and farmer producer companies to process millets into value-added products like pakoras and laddus to sell at the local market.

Additionally, she played a key role in establishing a farm school in her village by donating her ancestral family land.

Recently, she got an opportunity to showcase her active participation in revitalising traditional rice and millet varieties at the 2023 G20 Summit held in New Delhi, for which she was personally appreciated by the President of India, Draupadi Murmu.

“The national-level recognition has not only brought me immense respect from my in-laws but also from global leaders. It motivates me to conserve more varieties and make my state proud,” says Raimati.

Loved Raimati’s work? Watch this short video to know more:

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Edited by Pranita Bhat

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