Rukmani Devi: From Ploughing Others' Lands To Cultivating Her Own

Speaking with SheThePeople, Jharkhand's Rukmani Devi looked back on her life marked by hardships, how she tactically overpowered her bleak financial condition after her husband's demise, and why agricultural entrepreneurship changed her life.

Priya Prakash
New Update
Jharkhand Rukmani Devi Woman in agriculture

Rukmani Devi

Rukmani Devi changed her life with what we often take for granted - India's agriculture. Devi's life story speaks volumes about resilience and how turning challenge into opportunity can change not one life but an entire family's. Devi once tilled others' lands and tended to chores, owning a plot of land she couldn't cultivate due to the scarcity of water and lack of family support. One day, she discovered a glimmer of hope. Determined not to let her land languish, she sought their help, fueled by the desire to steer her children away from a life akin to her own, bound by labour in the fields.


47-year-old Devi lives in Alankera village, Jharkhand. She married young and had four children. Her life was tough—her husband had alcohol issues, leading to a huge loss in their livelihood. When he passed away, she struggled to support her family. She worked as a domestic helper and labourer. She sent her youngest daughter to Ranchi to help with the family's income. As a woman, she faced hardships silently but began focusing on her responsibilities, aiming for a better future for her children. 

Before embarking on her current project, Devi used to work on other people's farms and handle household chores to meet her basic needs. Speaking with SheThePeople, Jharkhand's Rukmani Devi looked back on her life marked by hardships, how she tactically overpowered her bleak financial condition after her husband's demise, and why agricultural entrepreneurship changed her life, which served as an empowerment for several others around her.

What inspired you to make a career in agriculture?

Upon discovering the possibility of receiving support from women members and the project team of PRADAN, I approached them. I had resolved not to let my land and property go to waste and was determined to support my children in their education, steering them away from a life of mere farm labour like mine.

What was the impact on your life and the lives of your children?

The prospect of gaining access to water and irrigation motivated me to relocate closer to my own land and delve into agriculture. Taking advantage of welfare schemes, and support from PRADAN, I enrolled in pension programs for the differently-abled and obtained a ration card in my name. This not only secured rations for me but also instilled the confidence to move away from my current location and settle near my land. Additionally, I benefited from housing support, allowing me to construct a home for myself and my children near the source of irrigation.


What were the turning points in your journey towards empowerment, and how did they shape your perspective on life and resilience?

These facilities and opportunities have not only given me confidence in life but have also empowered me to see myself as more than just a labourer; I now recognize that, as a woman, I have rights over land, water, and housing, enabling me to create my own livelihood as a farmer.

There is one mantra in life. Never give up. Different people face different challenges in life and many a times, they give up, unable to fight against the challenges. But one should keep going; with dedication and determination, we all the capability to bring in good times in our life. 

With the assistance of welfare schemes, her life took a new turn. The promise of water sparked a change; she relocated closer to her land, embracing agriculture. Enrolling in pension programs and securing a ration card in her name brought newfound confidence. It empowered her to move closer to her land, to construct a home where water flowed.

These opportunities were not just steps; they were leaps toward empowerment. She saw herself not merely as a labourer but as a woman with rights over her land and home. She found her place as a farmer, shaping her own livelihood.

In sharing her story, she echoed a mantra for life—a gentle yet resolute advice to never surrender. Life's challenges may differ, but the perseverance to face them remains constant. With steadfast dedication, she believed, anyone could bring brighter days into their lives.

Woman Farmer Women in agriculture