At the very young age of one, Rubi Pareek had lost her father to cancer. The family was forced to sell their 150 bigha land and all of their savings on her father’s treatment.
“We were told that it was because of pesticide-laden vegetables that the risk of life-threatening diseases like cancer increases,” says the Dausa resident.
Amid the financial hardships, she could not study after class 10 and at the age of 20, she was married into an agricultural family where she found a sense of empowerment.
In 2006, when a team from the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) organised a workshop on her family’s farm, she asked the officials if there was an alternative to chemical-based farming.
“I always wondered why cases of diseases like cancer keep rising. The officials explained the importance of organic farming and how the food produced organically is nutritious not only for humans but also for soil health,” she adds.
Soon after, Rubi joined a three-day training course at the KVK and learned how to switch to organic farming. This proved to be a turning point for her family’s income.
Traditionally, the family had been cultivating wheat and mustard crops by infusing chemical fertilisers which took a toll on the soil fertility and crop productivity.
“The usage of chemical fertilisers degraded the porosity and aeration of our farm soil. Whereas organic fertilisers increase the soil porosity which aids root development of the crop,” she explains.
Other than increasing soil health, organic farming allowed the family to save high input costs on chemicals.
“In place of chemical fertilisers, we only use cow dung and vermicompost. This has saved us 50 percent on input costs,” she explains.
“Additionally, our profits have doubled as organic produce is sold at twice the price because of high demand,” adds Rubi, who is now able to generate an income of Rs 1 lakh per bigha.
Over the years, she has also trained at least 15,000 farmers and agriculture students from across Rajasthan for free and helped them switch to organic farming.
In 2008, the NABARD presented Rubi with an award while recently, the Jaivik India Awards 2023 by the International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture felicitated her as well.