Author: reemasathe

5 point someone – a farmer’s take on life, work and economics

“Kaka, ek pose dijiye na photo ke liye” (Uncle, please give me a good pose for the photograph) “Suicide wala pose du kya?” (Should I give the suicide pose) The humour is dark in Vidarbha. As the temperature soars to 48 degree Celsius, farmers joke about death, depression and the shadow of unpaid debts, which comes lurking with extreme weather changes leading to a possible crop loss. Everytime, I visit our farmer groups in Vidarbha, I come back with unheard stories and turbulence in my mind. I spent last three days in Akola and it’s nearby villages, where Happy Roots along with farmers and Chetana Organics, has been working on a crop demonstration project. The heat was unbearable. The dark tanned faces of farmers with patches of red, told a story of their everyday battle with the sun and their undeterred spirit to fight for survival. This visit has raised my respect for Vidarbha farmers to a whole new level. Their view points on life, work and economics of their ecosystem made me write this blog …

Changing the face of agriculture in Vidarbha

Vidarbha as a name whenever heard, evokes many thoughts and sentiments, most of which are gloomy. Drought, farmer suicides, water distress and many such stories haunt the region and the minds of those, who care about the state of agriculture in India. The story of small and tribal farmers in Maharashtra is no different than that of farmers in other states of the country. At Happy Roots for the last 18 months we have been trying to build a sustainable food value chain that connects farmers directly with processors (F&B Industry) and end consumers. This would help our farmers own a bigger share in the food value chain and make farming an occupation of choice and not one of sustenance. Today, as I write this, we have taken a significant step to change the face of agriculture in Vidarbha. We are transferring the power of earning profitable incomes in the hands of our farmers and giving them the right to choose what to grow and sell it directly to the industry, at the rate they deserve. …

How I learned from continuous consumer feedback and shaped my startup

  In this post I have written a phase wise progress of Happy Roots. How I approached one problem at a time, what went wrong and how did I start afresh. Maybe I have made mistakes on the way but I learnt some biggest lessons in business. The best being “Be close to your consumer and she will guide you through”. Phase-1: Market linkage for small poultry farmers in Vidarbha Last year same time (April 2015) Happy Roots started as a project to build market linkages for small farmers in Vidarbha. Chetana foundation (our non-profit partner), the farmers and I worked really hard for 06 months to make this happen. It was a small project but had a good scope and we attracted attention from state government too.  In September, 2015 we tested our organic, cage-free eggs with few restaurants in Pune. The product was a hit (we had some great nutritional analysis results for the eggs). Below are some snapshots of the nutritional profile of the eggs we sourced and marketed:   But soon …

The dilemma of understanding feminism and rural development

This post is not an answer to any question. In fact it is a series of questions that I have been trying to answer myself. In my subconscious I guess I knew that the question about understanding feminism and rural empowerment existed somewhere deep down, inside me but I came face to face with it a few days back when I met the principal of a catering college in Pune. The principal has been working with rural women groups for their training and development for quite a long time. It looks like that she has done some real good work around it. When I shared with her my vision to change the status quo of rural communities I work with, she threw my dilemma right on my face “Do you know what the farmers or the women want? You can’t be on a mission to change something that doesn’t exist”. Of course I was upset for a few seconds but brushed my thoughts aside. Today I visited an annual function of a non-profit that has …

Are we losing our culture and history through our food? This new year know what you eat & what comes to your plate

Food bears a different meaning for each one of us. Celebration, community, comfort, happiness, sharing, culture is some of the broader symbolization or spirit of our food. In the past several years or even since the time we grew up as adults (especially if you are a 70’s or 80’s kid) there has been a transformation in what we eat, how we eat and where we eat. While we see some noticeable and some barely noticeable changes in our food patterns, somewhere back in the areas where our food grows, probably an entire generation of food is becoming history. Did you know that as per environmentalists there were more than 100,000 varieties of rice that existed in India once, now there are only 50. This might help you visualize it better; few years back Basmati rice was a luxury in my house back in Gujarat. During festivals or celebrations, my mother would get this special bag of Basmati rice from the nearby grocery. As a middle-class household we used to find it quite expensive and hence …