**Sambalpur:** A Dalit woman entrepreneur breaking all the caste barriers has successfully ventured into farming and is employing people when she doesn’t even own an ounce of land.
34-yr-old Sabitri Mahanand took to farming 12 years back with a passionate and unwavering belief that she can change things for better.
With an ill-keeping husband and a kid at home, she stepped out to earn her livelihood and support her family when she was expecting her second child.
This brave woman of Nuagaon village in Sambalpur district never looked back after that. Though she doesn’t own any land, now she works on 16 acres of land on sharing basis and has set an example in the society that women can excel in any field if they are determined enough.
“The treatment expenses of my husband were so high that we had to take loans. My children needed to be educated. So I shouldered the responsibility of running the house. Initially I underwent lots of hardship as I did not have any experience in this field or any financial backup. I even incurred losses for the first few years. But now I can easily boast that the initial one acre has transformed into 16 acres and I am doing very well,” said ever energetic Sabitri.
Now, the daughter is in college and son is going to school. They help their mother in her work whenever they are free. Sabitri hopes that her children take up good jobs after completing their studies and wants to marry off her daughter to a well-to-do groom.
His husband, Barasingh Mahanand (40) supports her whole-heartedly and is ever-grateful that she never shied off her duty and has successfully steered the family out of all the troubles.
Sabitri started her work in one acre on a sharing basis and is working on 16 acres now. Two land owners have given the land to her on good faith and she shares the yield with them. One of the owners has even installed a transformer and a subsidized motor for lift irrigation under the government’s Jalanidhi Yojana.
She employs daily wage labourers and grows only kharif crops mainly. Other than the paddy, she goes for groundnuts, mung and sometimes vegetables on a small patch of land.
“I easily earn around Rs 40-50,000 annually which is enough to eke out my expenses. Now I only aspire for a land of my own and expect some kind of help from the government so that I would not have to share the produce with anyone,”said a beaming Sabitri.
“She is a glaring example of woman empowerment. She manages all her activities single-handedly which is highly commendable,” according to Manas Bakshi, a villager.
Her commitment and dedication are lauded by her in-laws as well as the villagers who have acknowledged the contribution of this unsung heroine of the society.