Keeping it natural

By Suman Mahfuz Quazi | Mumbai

A Lower Parel eatery is hosting an interactive farmers' market with the aim of acquainting enthusiasts with wholesome organic produce as well as those who farm it

Rice paddy fields in Assam belonging to farmers whom Jain works with

The Nehru-Mahalanobis plan of the 1960s, designed by statistician Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis and our first Prime Minister, was a movement to increase per capita income through industrialisation. And though it gave us the IITs, it also paved the way for the Green Revolution, which encouraged adoption of new technologies in a bid to cultivate high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of cereals. The result was catastrophic and widened the socio-agrarian gap. Its repercussions can be felt even today.

Ruchi Jain

Ruchi Jain, an environmentalist and founder of Taru Naturals, an organic food company which focuses on a farm-to-table community development model, echoes this. Her initiative includes 3,000 small-scale farmers, and an upcoming farmers' market hopes to acquaint attendees with a healthier lifestyle, as well as with the farmers who bear the yoke. "We are not talking about the diversity of Indian food culture. It's okay to serve pizzas and burgers, but can we make it out of millets and local grains? After the Green Revolution the focus was on wheat and rice, but there are so many kinds of millets that are healthier," she says.

Fresh green produce at a pop-up

As a result of farmers not getting their due, a disinterest is fostering and is evident in phenomena that are not directly related, for example migration, she explains. "It has come to a point where there are ghost villages in the country because farming communities have left in search of better jobs," Jain elaborates.

At the farmers' market this weekend, Jain will be present to conduct a kitchen gardening workshop to arm enthusiasts with the knowledge needed to grow small veggies like lime, chilli and tomato in their kitchens. And to explain the process and benefits of organic farming, accompanying Jain will be Aaji, an 80-year-old small-scale farmer from Niphad in Maharashtra.

Organic Jaggery

"Nowadays, we want to eat broccoli and avocado when we should be eating and supporting indigenous food. We need to preserve our veggies which are going extinct. People are talking about quinoa and yet there are so many villages in Maharashtra that grow amaranth, a healthier variant from the same family. When we make a statement, 'We support the farmers', isn't that powerful?" she asks, inviting those who are willing to be a part of the change.

ON September 16, 10 am to 2 pm
AT Café Zoe, Todi 
Mills, Lower Parel.
CALL 24902065

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