Right recipe for her success

Till a few years ago, 48 year-old Dhaneswari Devi, a landless labourer in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district, about 275 km from Lucknow , lived in a ‘kuchha’ hut and barely managed to sustain herself. But that is past.

Now her income is in thousands and she has been teaching the art of becoming self-reliance to other women from the nearby villages. Dhaneswari is an expert in preparing organic manures and bio-pesticides. The compost and bio-pesticides prepared by her are in great demand not only in Gorakhpur but also in other adjoining districts as well.

“Till a few years back I wasn’t even in a position to feed my children... we had no land and no skill and the  entire family of six depended on meagre earnings from petty jobs”, Dhaneswari told Deccan Herald.

Everything changed when she came in contact with Gorakhpur-based voluntary organisation - Environmental Action Group (EAG) during a visit by the members of the group to Dhaneswari’s village to teach preparation of organic manures and bio-pesticides. Determined to make a new beginning and cast off the shackles of poverty, Dhaneswari evinced keen interest in the group’s activities and requested its members to train her in preparation of organic manures and bio-pesticides.

“They said that I will have to leave the village and go to Banda (a district in the Bundelkhand region and far away from Goarakhpur) for training,” Dhaneswari said.

Dhaneswari, who never  attended school and is illiterate, said her family had apprehensions about sending her to Banda for training but she remained adamant.

“I wanted to do something so that I could provide education to my children and earn enough to lead a comfortable life. So I decided to leave the village,” says Dhaneswari.
“A few months back a farmer from Nepal had bought two quintals of organic manure and earthworms to use them in his fields... he was very happy with the results and has invited me to visit his village for preparing the same,” Dhaneswari says.

She, however, refused the offer as she wants to remain in her village and teach others about preparing organic manures and bio-pesticides. “I do not want to go anywhere... instead I want to teach this art to other women,” says Dhaneswari.

Dhaneswari prepares organic manures between 20 to 25 kg. “The manure is sold at Rs 500 a quintal... the customers come and buy it,” she says. She sells organic manure worth about Rs 50,000 a year. In addition she also sells earthworms, which are used in preparing organic manure, worth Rs 15,000 annually.

And Dhaneswari’s life has certainly changed ever since. She has now purchased a four-wheeler and now lives in a ‘pucca’ house. The children have been admitted to reputed schools. “I have also bought an acre of land where I grow mixed crops,” she says.

She has become an iconic figure and many poor women approach her to learn how to become self-reliant. Jitendra Dwivedi of the Environmental Action Group is all praise for Dhaneswari’s  determination. “Despite being illiterate, she learnt very quickly,” he says.

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