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September 22, 2021

The Torchbearers: Building an Organic Brand

Ravikiran Saini is a fourth generation farmer from Bhagwanpur,  Uttarakhand. On the surface he may look like a simple farmer, but this man is passionate about organic farming – so passionate and experienced in fact that he moonlights as a regular guest lecturer at IIT Roorkee.

Like so many other farmers in the area, there once was a time when Ravikiran invested heavily in pesticides and chemical fertilisers to increase his crop production. But over time he watched as the health of his soil deteriorated and the quality of produce declined radically.

So when ACF introduced the concept of Organic Farming in 2010 via a series of training workshops and exposure visits, Ravikiran was easily convinced it was the way of the future. He stepped forward as one of the first farmers to pilot organic farming on a small plot of his land and was wowed by the results.

“The produce tasted so good – it was by far superior to anything grown before” he said. And so he got to work, motivating other farmers to join the organic farming movement and convert their farming practices to more sustainable ones. 

By 2018 the farmers mobilised and with the help of ACF, formed the Bhu Amrit Farmer Producer Company. The FPO started with just 390 farmers and 236 ha under organic farming. But with dedication and persistence, the organisation has advanced organic farming in the region, and today boasts 656 members (33% of whom are women) and 336 ha under organic farming. 

But on the journey the farmers saw that the local market would just not pay a higher price for organic produce – and so they began to discuss the prospect of value-added products and creating their own brand of packaged goods to take to larger, metropolitan markets and command a higher price. It was a bold venture and way ahead of its time, but in the last decade the gamble has paid off and Bhu Amrit’s line of products (which include Jaggery, Jaggery Powder, Wheat Flour, Cane Sugar, Mustard Oil, Lentils, Honey and more) are now found on the shelves of many retail outlets in Delhi, Gujarat and Punjab.

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And Ravikiran has been a key advocate of organic farming along this journey. He has proved himself to have incredible convincing npower with the likes of the Government – convincing ministerial representatives to subsidise organic inputs, in the same way it subsidises mainstream chemical inputs for farming – a boon for Bhu Amrit farmers. 

Today he is an adviser to the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and Bhu Amrit has been awarded the Best FPO of the State in 2020.

What next for Bhu Amrit? They are now on Amazon and Flipkart.

Impact

  • Awarded Best FPO in Uttrakhand
  • 15 products in the Bhu Amrit Organic Product Range
  • 656 Organic Farmers
  • Certified under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) & National Organic Programme (NOP)
  • 143 Women Farmers in Bhu Amrit in 2020-21
  • Rs. 1.31 crore Turnover & Rs. 9.54 lakhs Profit
September 22, 2021

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