Pushan Chakraborty is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Pollination Studies who is focusing on pollen transport networks
I met Amita Debbarma or our Amita di, while during my field work in Tripura. She belongs to the ‘kakbarok’ speaking tribal groups of Tripura. To me, she is the good model of self-confidence and diligence. She is the lady who can stand on her feet by her own hard labour, within only the age of 40. She started her life only with a small piece of agricultural land. Her family now consists of five members: husband, two small kids, a niece and an old mother in law, living nearby. She is really caring about her family.
In her daily life, she rises early 4.30 am in the morning everyday and goes to her field for taking care of the plants which involves planting seedlings, watering the plants, manuring, pesticide application, weeding, tillage, sowing of seeds, etc. In her farm, she produces vegetables like potato, brinjal, tomato, chilly, mustard, paddy, etc season wise, in her ancestral farmland. She is doing farming from her teens, when she was just a school going girl. But the lady does not stop here. She is the owner of a rice mile now, by which she makes a good amount of extra income as there is no rice mile nearby. She along with some part-time employee works for rice husking job. If you are in search of some different kind of rice grown in tribal areas (like khasha, binni etc) she can be asked for.
Still, this is not the end. She has started a tailoring business of her own recently for making clothes for tribal women. This also brings some extra income to the family.
After all these, she is not fully satisfied thinking of the future schooling of the kids, in the era of price hike. She has a dream of having a car of their own, but to her words, ‘family comes first’. So the dream remains pending for the future. Recently, due to the illness of her mother in law, she was not able to attend the farm for taking care of the plants regularly. So, she faced a loss in the vegetable market this year.
Within her busy daily life, she is the only from her family to visit the nearby market to sell her product or for marketing of daily used commodities, etc.
The tribal family is quite hospitable. Amita di is caring about the labourers and employees. She is also affectionate to the students like us, visiting her field for research work. She manages to find little breaks from her busy schedule to ask us for water, some food and little chats that makes us feel comfortable. Though her teeth lost whiteness for tobacco addiction but her smiling face greets everybody.