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“Farming is Not Mere Cultivation; It's About Delivering Value-based Products,” Says Farmer Reeva Sood

Hailing from Himachal Pradesh, Reeva earns 85-90 lakh annually via organic farming of dragon fruit.

Shreetu Singh
Reeva Sood, a State Millionaire Horticulture Farmer Awardee by Krishi Jagran (Photo Source: Reeva Sood)
Reeva Sood, a State Millionaire Horticulture Farmer Awardee by Krishi Jagran (Photo Source: Reeva Sood)

Reeva Sood from Una, Himachal Pradesh, is the first woman agri-entrepreneur in her region. She bagged the State Millionaire Horticulture Farmer Award 2023 by Krishi Jagran, particularly in the cultivation of dragon fruit. 

Besides, Reeva is involved in the farming of numerous medicinal and aromatic crops such as moringa, vetiver, stevia, and turmeric. Through her dedicated efforts, she achieved an impressive annual income ranging between 85-90 lakhs last year. Her tale of turning barren land into a beautiful organic farm is worth exploring. Read edited excerpts from the interview. 

From Activism to Organic Farming

Reeva, a graduate and post-graduate in Sociology, dedicated 32 years of her life to activism with NGOs, advocating for women's rights. She says, "My journey took a profound turn when my husband, Dr. Rajeev Sood, was diagnosed with cancer.” This heartbreaking event prompted the couple to reflect on the potential health risks associated with urea and chemicals in conventional crops. Driven by a desire to raise awareness and promote healthier alternatives, Reeva embarked on a personal mission towards organic farming. 

Diversifying Agriculture with Sustainable Practices

Soon after, Reeva commenced her agricultural journey with a barren land, its soil depleted by decades of erosion. She focused her efforts on replenishing soil nutrients using organic manure and innovative techniques. She says, “I utilized cow dung and urine for vermicompost, enhancing soil fertility.” 

Next, by installing poly houses, she enabled year-round farming and her selection of crops needed to be based on the local climate. Recognizing the suitability of cactus farming to the area, Reeva started integrated farming, combining cactus cultivation with dragon fruit. Fortunately, her efforts did not go unnoticed; both the World Bank and the Horticulture Department of Himachal Pradesh acknowledged her work, providing grants to support her initiatives. Moreover, her dedication to growing medicinal crops like ashwagandha garnered attention from AYUSH, leading to her farm being designated as a distribution center for medicinal crops in Northern India.

Supporting Agricultural Research and Development

In addition to her farming endeavors, Reeva has initiated research and development collaborations with Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, focusing on the nutraceutical values of the crops. Partnering with Career Point University in Palampur. Additionally, she has provided plant saplings to institutes like the Government Institute of Indian System of Medicine and Research in Jogindernagar. 

Reeva says, “Farming is not mere cultivation; it's about delivering value-based products.” Her work has attracted interns from esteemed institutions like Delhi University and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, who come to learn from her farm. As a board member of the University, Reeva actively promotes organic farming, aiming to inspire students towards sustainable agricultural practices. 

Empowering Women Farmers through FPOs

Reeva has further expanded her impact by establishing an FPO called Him 2 Hum Farmers Producer Company Limited, where around 230 women are actively engaged in cultivating aromatic and medicinal plants. Reeva shared that the organization not only equips these women with plant saplings but also provides support throughout the farming process. With a focus on crops like ashwagandha, moringa, and turmeric, they assist in both cultivation and marketing, empowering these women economically. 

Overall, Reeva's dedication extends to raising awareness and promoting sustainable practices among these farmers. She has assisted other farmers too by providing them with the necessary resources to cultivate moringa.

Reeva’s Message to Farmers

Throughout the journey, Reeva was supported by the government. Recently, she secured a subsidy of 60 lakh out of the 1 crore needed for the new project. Reeva says, “Farmers should be aware of the importance of using natural manures, accurate techniques, and smart farming for success.” 

In the foreseeable future, Reeva is to start a processing unit. Her dedication to innovation in agriculture inspires change for many.

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