[Women’s Day] Meet Foolmati, a farmer from Madhya Pradesh helping others increase productivity and income

This is the story of how a farmer changed the face of her village and surrounding villages through an efficient system that aided crop production all year around.

[Women’s Day] Meet Foolmati, a farmer from Madhya Pradesh helping others increase productivity and income

Monday March 07, 2022,

4 min Read

Until a couple of years ago, farmers in Godbahra, a small village in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh, tilled their lands and grew crops only during the monsoon. The families had depended on farming for generations to feed themselves. During the dry season, the farmers migrated to distant places to work as manual labour and earn wages. There were times when eating two meals a day seemed a luxury.



Foolmati Panikas is one such farmer, whose family had been growing different crops for generations. She wanted to change the circumstances and fate of the village and its farmers, and was looking at ways to increase crop productivity.

This is the story of a momentous decision and how lives of the farmers of Godbahara village and other surrounding villages have changed since then.

“I was approached by staff members of PRADAN and enrolled myself for an orientation workshop on agricultural entrepreneurship. While attending the sessions, I conceived the idea of a centralised vegetable nursery, because local farmers did not have a reliable place to buy seeds or saplings,” she explains.

“Slowly, but steadily, with the help of PRADAN’s orientation programme, I started believing in my ability to change the prospect of vegetable cultivation. I started offering the service in my village, but eventually offered the services to all the nearby five villages, which was applauded by everyone in the community,” she adds.

PRADAN (Professional Assistance for Development Action) is a non-government, non-profit organisation that works with disadvantaged communities across seven of the poorest states in the country, helping them to emerge from poverty and lead a life of dignity.


Collecting bamboo, constructing the structure, and arranging nursery beds all seemed like difficult tasks for her to complete alone.

She was also expecting a baby at that point in time, and hence took help from her husband, PRADAN staff members, and her self-help group (SHG) mates, and then started creating the structure and preparing nursery beds. A greenhouse with a capacity for 40,000 saplings was ready. Tomato, chilli, brinjal, cabbage, and cauliflower were sown. In a few months, the nursery was ready with 25,000 lush green saplings.

“I prepared 10,000 saplings in coco peat (soil made from the pith of the coconut husk) and the rest on raised beds. I used only organic materials such as VAM (Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza), Pseudomonas, Trichoderma, and cow dung,” she says.

Along with providing the services to her own village, Foolmati approached the neighbouring villages so that they could also cultivate crops from the saplings.

However, she did not stop at selling the saplings. She followed up with the Krishi Sakhis, who helped farmers access centralised nurseries, and who will eventually be groomed to become entrepreneurs to ensure that the farmers adhered correctly to the cultivation process. She also kept checking with the farmers on the health of the plants and crops over video calls. Her timely intervention of a centralised nursery helped them minimise their loss and add to their incomes in a short span of time.

Water resources had also increased by virtue of the joint natural resource planning, which was facilitated by PRADAN. Crops can now be grown in winter too.

Buoyed by the success of the first centralised nursery, Foolmati’s husband eyed an 80,000-capacity nursery for the next kharif, and thus, the family became the face of a completely new style of agriculture that avoids loss and guarantees remunerative income in almost six villages. This was also need of the hour.

I operate along with the Krishi Sakhi to ensure a reasonable income for vegetable farmers for my village and all the nearby five villages. In the second round, we sowed 20,000 seeds and we are planning to expand the capacity in the future,” Foolmati says.

Edited by Megha Reddy