Extending A Hand To The Farmers

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Heard of desktop gardening, or NeeRaw, an extraction from coconut flower, rich in vitamins, or wood-pressed varieties in oil…Visit the weekend Naisargik Santhe, or the organic fair, to encounter native products from local farmers.

“Agriculture is the backbone of human existence. For any civilization to prosper, agriculture has to be healthy and sustainable. We need to get our focus back on agriculture… our earth has plenty for everyone. We only have to manage its resources well.” The words of the Art of Living, Founder, Sri Sri Ravishankar doesn’t stay dormant with his belief; his expressions have long taken root in ‘The Sri Sri Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Trust’ (SSIAST) to provide opportunities in education, research and extension in agriculture, horticulture, veterinary and animal sciences, agricultural engineering, home sciences, forestry, and other allied fields.

Cut to the current scenario. How much activity has gained traction in agriculture and its allied product sale? “The whole of 2020 was almost silenced in terms of agri-business for farmers. Even if many had their farm operations on, reaching produce or products to people was hit due to the pandemic. It was decided by SSIAST to assist the languishing farmers and have them bring over their merchandise for a Weekend Market, ‘Naisargik Santhe’ (Organic Fair). The ongoing market, which is expected to go on for a while, features farm produce, home-made products, garden essentials, pottery, hand-made jewelry, Ayurveda from Sri Sri Tattwa, and a food court under the umbrella of everything organic,” says Venkatesh SR, CEO, SSIAST.

The Naisargik Santhe is an attempt to help the farming community in all ways, he says. The agriculture profession is mainly managed by small farmers who are not familiar with the management of agri-produce that goes through various levels. The challenges are enormous in the agriculture sector. “While SSIAST helps impart structured management skills to the new generation of students, we regularly arrange organic farmers’ fair at the grass-root level.

In 2019 we had the Desi Beeja Mahotsav (native seeds) and had an organic exhibition. At the beginning of 2020, we had an Organic Krishi Mela creating a platform for organic vendors, farmers, seed-keepers, amongst others in the agri-industry. When the Government came up with a small relaxation in mid-January this year, we started the Naisargik Santhe as requested by the petty vendors, farmers, and local artisans and craftsmen to have their creations reach out to the public,” adds Venkatesh.

The weekend fair on February 20 and 21 will see nearly 80 stalls, with organic veggies from the farms of AOL and Gopalan Organics. While traditional silk and handloom cotton, handmade jewelry, bio-pesticides/bio-fertilizers, pottery, and desi-vegetable seeds are also included, some more stalls micro-greens from Swasthaya Greens and a string of products from desi cow dung from Punyakoti Naturals, Mandya are something to look out for.

And when it comes to Karnataka’s own groundnut oil, Saptham has Gaanada Yenne (Wood Pressed Oil) with live demonstrations showing the mechanics of organic oil-making from groundnuts, dry coconut, amongst others. Incidentally, it takes three kgs of groundnut to extract one liter of virgin groundnut oil, says Manohar Iyer of Saptham.“Have you ever had NeeRaw, nature’s gift of coconut in liquid form! NeeRaw is a non-alcoholic nutritious health drink tapped from the coconut tree’s inflorescence, which is packed with Vitamin B, C & D, minerals, and 17 kinds of amino acids. This drink is directly collected from flowers at farms with nothing more added or removed to its composition. Heard of Indian apricots? When most people are used to this dry fruit coming from Australia and Turkey, the richer ones with more vitamins grown in Ladakh are relatively unknown, as farmers there were perpetually in need of a helping hand to grow and popularize their desi variety of apricots. Taste these Ladakh Apricots at Parchin’s stall that also showcases a passionate propagator like Mahaveer steering the cause to help Ladakh farmers grow and bring them to the limelight. And don’t forget our Desi games amidst all things natural. 32 varieties of traditional games, including Chowkabara, Algulimane, Pagde, are being promoted by Vinay Prashanth of Tamaala (JP Nagar) in his stall at the fair.

(Naisargik Santhe, AOL Ashram, Kanakapura Main Road, Saturdays (3 to 8 pm) and Sundays (10-30am to 8 pm). Call 63664 22974 for details)  

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