Chinta Bai TREGRAM - India

A Strong Community Leader for Women Farmers

Chinta Bai (40) is a leader of Ram Rahim Pragati Producer Company Limited (RRPPCL), a significant rural economic farmer-owned institution in one of the poorest areas of Madhya Pradesh, India. Being born into a marginalized indigenous tribal community, in a condition of poverty, landlessness, and “bonded” farm work, Chinta’s rise as a community leader is evidence of her undeterred spirit to overcome all odds.

Her courageous step to leave her abusive husband, whom she was married off to at the age of 13 years, led to her social exclusion and loss of familial support but this did not bring her down. Her story changed when she joined a self-help group and started a humble goat business. Today, under Chinta’s leadership, RRPPCL has been able to change the terms of market power and commodity exchange to benefit small and marginal farmers who are the most disadvantaged and exploited participants in India’s agricultural system. Through Chinta’s initiatives, RRPPCL has brought together 2,662 women shareholder farmers and has enabled them to sell over 4,000 tons of wheat, maize, Bengal gram, red gram, green gram, and soybeans. Chinta fought relentlessly for RRPPCL to be a part of the National Commodities Derivatives Exchange, which provides small farmers with an online, real-time market to directly sell their produce across India. Chinta was not only responsible for this remarkable progress, but she has also been instrumental in inspiring women to stand up to traders to obtain fair prices for their goods. Her adoption of technical knowledge and skills critical to agricultural market practices, which are often not accessible to rural farmers and remain the domain of middlemen and elite farming capitalists, is commendable in the face of her illiteracy.

Chinta is a true leader who used her own disadvantaged start to fight against traditional norms and encourage women to be independent.