Tumkur farmers empower themselves with 'Tumahara'
Farmers in Tumkur have a reason to smile. Over 16 of them have together launched ‘Tumahara’. The unique aspect of Tumahara initiative is that the products, which include ragi malt, baby food, virgin coconut oil and the like, are produced, manufactured and marketed by the farmers themselves, doing away with middlemen.
“My parents and grandparents were all farmers,” said Santosh Kumar, one of the producers. “I do not know any other profession and have been making my living ever since from this. At a point, it had become difficult for us to survive in the market as huge profit margins from our produce would go into the hands of middle men,” said Santosh. “We have had to go to far-off places like Delhi and Ghaziabad as part of the government’s benefit schemes to sell out material. Often, the merchants would purchase our produce there and sell it at a higher price, leaving us with less profit,” he explained.
It was only in June 2012, that a project — ‘Dream:In’ was launched, which sought to empower the farmers and make them capable of selling their produce themselves. Why farmers of Tumkur? “Because it is close to Bangalore, which makes it easier for the farmers to reach the State-level market easily,” Kush Mehrotra, CEO and Co-Founder, Dream:In told reporters.
The initial expenses of opening an office in Tumkur, ensuring manpower, packaging, branding, quality ensurance and logistics were taken care of by Manipal Foundation.
“The idea is to empower our farmers. About three farmer co-operative groups consisting of three to four farmers were formed within the district and were guided through the process. We will assist them until they are able to sustain themselves,” said Mehrotra.
“If the project becomes successful, we plan to broaden our aspects and hence, function at a State and further, at the all India level. But then, we will be concentrating on cultivating the staple crop of each state,” said Mallikarjun, who heads the Tumkur project.
“Initially, it was difficult to convince the farmers. But then once we won their trust, it was much easier to turn this into a reality,” he added. The products are competitively priced and available at super stores across Tumkur and Big Bazar outlets in and around Bangalore.