Leading by example A success story of Bibi Fatima

Empowerment of women is essentially the process of upliftment of economic, social and political status of women, the traditionally underprivileged ones, in the society. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth. The case of Bibi Fatima from Karnataka, proves that women’s business or enterprise has the potential to significantly alter society by giving them financial independence and empowerment.

Bibi Fatima is a 38 year young, enterprising graduate from Thirtha village in Shiggon Taluk, Haveri district. With the help of Sahaj Samurdhha, an NGO, Bibi Fatima has been working towards empowering women, since 2018. She initially formed Bibi Fatima Swa Sahaya Sangha, a Self Help Group (SHG) and further facilitated formation of six SHGs in two taluks, namely, Shiggon and Kundgol.

Community Seed Bank
Bibi Fatima started a Seed Bank at Thirtha during 2019 in order to increase the production and access to seeds. At present, she has 300 varieties of seeds of different crops. She has 75 varieties of Finger Millet (Ragi) seeds, 25 varieties in Little Millet (Saave), 25 varieties of Brown top Millet (Korale) seeds, 10 varieties in Foxtail Millet (Navane) and two varieties of Proso Millet (Baragu). She also has divergent seeds in vegetables and pulses in their seed bank.


A seed bank is a facility that stores seeds in order to maintain genetically pure variety for future generations. The seeds are usually stored in climate controlled, low humidity and suitable temperatures to help long -term preservation of the seeds. A seed bank is a type of insurance, which allows us to safeguard as many plant species as possible from extinction.  Seed banks that are well-funded and well-maintained are crucial in mitigating the worldwide impact of the climate change on agriculture.


“Navdhanya Kit”, which consists of 9 varieties seeds has been developed to help farmers grow many crops on their field. It consists of various seeds like pulses, oil seeds, millets and vegetables. Every year, these kits are distributed free of cost to the selected farmers from Haveri, Dharwad, Gulburga, Mysore and Mandya districts. For others who are interested, these kits are sold for a price.

In 2021, with the help of Sahaja Samurdhha, nine millet processing machines (see Table 1) were established in the village, with the financial support by ICAR-IIMR, Hyderabad. This is being operated under the leadership of Bibi Fatima. In this unit, different products like ragi dosa mix, ragi multigrain atta, ragi special malt, flour of all grains etc., are being produced. Apart from these natural products like papaya soaps, charcoal soap using pure coconut oil, Tulsi, Bevu, Neem Juice, Milk, Turmeric and aloe-vera are also being produced. All the value added products are exhibited in various events, like Hampi Utsav, so as to diffuse the use of technologies to the larger community.

In 2023, a Farmers Producers Organisation (FPO), named as “Devdhanya”, was formed with 1000 shareholders, of which 80 per cent are women. Through the FPO, they sell 5q of different millet flakes every week. They also do catering services during mela and conferences. They sell Roti at Rs. 7-8 within the district and outside the district Rs. 10 /Roti. Overall, they get around 20% profit.

Table 1: Millet processing machines


Used for removing husk on millets. The husk and rice are separated through an aspirator. Two chambers are used for effective separation of rice from the husk. Completely unpolished millet rice is the final output

Size grader millet machine

Grader is used for grading the grains based on their sizes.

Destoner I &

Destoner II

The grain and stones are separated by vibrating motion. The large stones on the surface of the stone screen, under the action of the force and airflow of the vibration system, will be discharged into the big stone outlet

Floor Mill

Flour mills are used to grind and break down the grains into smaller pieces and separate them. Depending on your requirements, you can choose from the wide range of sizes available in the market. 

Aspirator cum dehuller

The raw materials after proper cleaning are sent for husk removal into the huller.



Packing machines are used to package products efficiently and effectively. Packing machines come in different types, each designed to suit specific packaging needs. These machines are equipped with various features that make them efficient, accurate, and reliable.

Collaboration with All India Co-ordinated Research Project-Women in Agriculture
All India Co-ordinated Research Project- Women Agriculture of ICAR, Central Institute of women in Agriculture (CIWA), Bhubaneshwar implemented the project, Shree Anna Gram Yojane in 12 States. The objective was to promote production of millet in adopted region/ villages and consumption of millet based foods for enhancing nutrition. AICRP-WIA, Dharwad Centre, selected Shisuvinal and Bannikoppa villages in Shiggaon taluk of Haveri district to implement its programme. Under this programme seeds were purchased from the Seed Bank of Thirtha to promote production of millets in adopted villages.

Awards and Recognition
Bibi Fatima with her constant efforts, interest and family support attained economic independence, enhanced social recignition and self confidence. She has been recognized as a Change Maker by Deccan Herald in 2023. Many organizations from Bengaluru, Mandya, Chennai and Delhi honored her with many awards, cash certificates and medals. Now Bibi Fatima has formed 40 SHGs in Kundgol and 10 in Shiggaon and 83 SHG under NRLM-Sanjeevini group and at present she is working as secretary in the Panchayat.

Empowering rural women through entrepreneurial activities and value addition not only boosts their income but also contributes to their self-confidence and building capacities at the village level. The efforts of Bibi Fatima throws light on success of women through capacity and skill building. Hence, extension workers should recognize such entrepreneurs, promote them and link them with other farmers, universities, private companies, processing units and consumers.

For more information, contact Bibi Bibi Fatima, Thirtha village, Haveri district at 8431988093

Geeta P.Channal
Senior Scientist, AICRP-WIA (Extn)
University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad – 580 005 ,Karnataka, India
Email ID: geetrajpatil@yahoo.co.in

Rajeshwari Desai
Senior Scientist, AICRP-WIA (FRM)
University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad – 580 005 ,Karnataka, India

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