Padma Shri Trinity Saioo has trained 800 women in turmeric farming, besides joining hands with many farmers across villages to grow Lakadong turmeric, a rare spice that is native to her state. Her work is a fitting beacon of women empowerment in our country.
Trinity Saioo, a teacher by profession, has a long history with organic farming. Born into a family of farmers, the occupation of farming was passed down across the generations. As a result, Trinity, too, started to work in paddy fields around her house at a very young age. Her journey of encouraging farmers to grow Lakadong turmeric began in 2003 and continues to date. Saioo would spend hours in the field after school cultivating the rare spice. She would conduct classes in her school village from 8 am to 1 pm followed by a visit to her field and practising turmeric farming.
During that time, the Spice Board of India also encouraged the cultivation of Lakadong turmeric and provided subsidies to the cultivators, as an incentive. Determined to avail the opportunity and encourage other farmers to increase their income, she registered for the scheme. She is a woman who believes in wasting no time and utilising every minute available to her. So, she would visit neighbouring villages on Saturdays and encourage people to grow Lakadong turmeric. During winter vacations, she would work shoulder to shoulder with farmers in helping them to cultivate this rare variety of spice under her guidance. Driven by her passion, Saioo came across several roadblocks as she would have to travel to villages far from her home and convince hesitant farmers to sign up for turmeric farming. She would answer every query, explain the advantages of expanding land and cultivation while helping them fill up forms even at night after having a hard day herself.
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After having many farmers agree to sign up, Saioo travelled to Shillong to the head office with a bag full of forms to help the field officer register the farmers for Lakadong farming. Without any personal gain or monetary fee, Trinity was solely working on empowering farmers in her state and helping them uplift themselves. In close association with the Spice Board of India, she as well as other farmers also travelled to Kerala for study tours and gained exposure to other farming practices used in cultivating spices. After this, Trinity helped send other farmers to study tours that were sponsored by the state to help provide awareness about new and advanced farming techniques to cultivators in her village. Apart from this, she would also voice the grievances of farmers in meetings with the Spice Board of India and encourage fellow agriculturalists to participate in the decision making processes.
After the Spice Board of India retracted their services in 2015, Trinity took it upon herself to uplift farmers around her. From procuring turmeric seeds from other farmers and distributing them amongst those who could not afford to buy them, she was helping farmers on every step. In 2018, after being appreciated for her efforts on Kisan Divas, she started to gain government and corporate recognition. As a woman who started with the purpose of social work, she was not accustomed to the tactics of running a business. So, when contractors and buyers began to contact her for turmeric supply, she was hesitant. However, she eventually learned the ways of doing a business. From then to now, she has exported more than 50 metric tonnes of Lakadong Turmeric, 5 metric tonnes of ginger, and many quantities of cinnamon etc. Trinity continues to toil relentlessly to serve more. Today, she stands as a pillar of support to 86 villages under the Laskien block. Trinity uses her capital to employ workers in her unit, spend money on cleaning and furnishing raw turmeric provided to her by farmers and fund farmers who face financial problems.
Lakadong turmeric distinguishes itself from other kinds of turmeric due to the high concentration of curcumin present in it which gives the spice therapeutic properties. Trinity and her fellow farmers grow the spice organically using safe methods such as vermicomposting etc. To train more than 800 women in turmeric farming was never easy, and women did show some hesitancy in the beginning in joining hands with her for farming. Even though times got tough sometimes when insect attacks, uncertainties of weather and irregularity of turmeric farming appeared as major problems in front of her, Ms Saioo did not let them get to her as she challenged them head-on.
Today, the biggest challenge in front of her is the lack of machinery and technology available in the state. To date, she and her co-workers have to hand wash, slice, grind, and package turmeric which could be better done by machines but because of their high cost, it becomes difficult to avail them. Trinity Saioo believes that the government should come forward to help farmers like her and provide them with better equipment and machinery to help advance the agricultural sector of the country.
As the mission of her life, she aims to encourage more and more farmers in Lakadong turmeric farming and help them avail a better source of income. She also wishes to spread awareness about the qualities of rare spices and encourage people to use and consume them. As a social worker who runs a business, she always asks her buyers to not sell Lakadong turmeric at a high price in small cities to make it affordable and available to every person. She also believes in working together as a team and sharing labour and effort to see the best results.
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