“There are many (commercial) banks in the rural areas, but my vision is to see a seed bank in every
Indian village. Everyone’s plate filled with food must be free of poison. That is the only aim we all
must work for,” said Indian farmer and conservationist also known as ‘seed mother’, Rahibai Soma
Popere here today.
The Padmashri awardee from Aurangabad in Maharashtra was speaking at the inauguration of the
Women’s Science Congress on the sidelines of 108th Indian Science Congress being hosted by
Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University..
Popere said that even though she was illiterate she feels that there is a need to impart education among
all the women of the country. She also highlighted that there is a need to work towards the benefit of
Married at the age of 12, Rahibai toiled in the farms all her life, she said that for her the nature was
her school. It was Rahibai who analysed the growing diseases among the farmers due to the increase
in the use of fertilisers and pesticides in farming. It was after this thought that she turned to organic
farming and created a seed bank using organic methods of farming.
In her speech she kept reiterating that ‘old is gold’. Popere also informed the need for education
among the coming generations. “I feel honoured that even if I am illiterate, I am invited to various
schools and colleges. I just feel that if I was literate, I would have been able to read and express my
thoughts in Hindi and English,” she said.
Social worker and head of Seva Sadan Sanstha, Mrs. Kanchan Gadkari, who was the chief guest,
observed that today’s generation asks numerous questions. They need a scientific explanation. And
hence programmes and events like these are important. She also highlighted the need of education
among the women so that they teach their entire family.
Dr Nisha Mendiratta, advisor head, WISE-KIRAN division, said India is far ahead in case of
education. She also highlighted that Indian girls are performing far better than the boys. “The world
average for women’s participation is 30% and I am glad to inform that India has reached 18%. There
are over 35,000 girls and women scientists in India who have received various opportunities in
science from the department of science and technology,” added Dr Nisha Mendiratta. “A woman of
strength knows where she will become strong. There should be an intrinsic belief in herself,” she
ISCA General President, Dr Vijaylaxmi Saxena delivered the presidential address. She said, “In
ancient times, that is, during the Vedic times, the idea of perfect equality existed. Our daughters and
mothers should have the same privilege now. What happened once can certainly happen again. Indian
women of the future will be the ideal women of entire world. Empowering women is empowering
Convenor of the event, Dr. Kalpana Pande informed that there have been 5000 registrations for the
Women Science Congress alone apart from ISC.
Dr S Ramkrishna, general secretary ICCA gave the welcome address, while RTMNU Vice
Chancellor, Dr. Subhash R. Chaudhari, was prominently present. A souvenir was also released during