B'luru's apartment community join to support farmers

Bengaluru's apartment community come together to buy 'Araga Petha' to support farmers

(Photo by Janardhan BK)

Providing market for farmers’ produce during the lockdown, apartment complexes of Bengaluru have yet again come together for a ‘sweet task’. Unlike buying veggies and fruits previously, this time the apartments across the city have come together under ‘Operation Petha’ challenge to provide market for ‘Araga Petha’—a desi variety of the famous Agra ke Petha.

A fortnight ago, bailing out the distressed ash gourd farmers of Theerthahalli in Shivamogga district, a mechanical engineer-turned-entrepreneur Vishwanath Kuntavalli had innovated the local variety of the famous Agra Petha—the translucent soft candy and named it after the place ‘Araga’ in Theerthahalli. Embarking on a large scale production of petha to support the distressed farmers during lock down, Vishwanath had a Herculean challenge to market the product. However, the Bengaluru based Vande Bharatam Foundation, a network of volunteers from various background helped Vishwanath’s Ibbani Foods in marketing the new local variety of sweet that originated during the lockdown.

“Previously we had helped the fruit and vegetable farmers along with Hopcoms and delivered it to all apartments across the city. Similarly, we experimented with the Petha sweet which was invented during the lock down to support the distressed ash gourd farmers of Malnad region. Several apartments have come forward to buy the sweet and support the farmers’ cause,” explained Manohar, a volunteer with the foundation. On Saturday alone, one tonne of Araga Petha was moved for sale in Hebbal, Whitefield areas.  

Lokesh BH, founder of the volunteer network said, “Our objective was to provide market for a produce that was innovated to support farmers during the lock down. More than 250 farmers around Theerthahalli are in distress with the cultivation of more than 2000 tonnes of ash gourd. One kilogram of ash gourd can yield 250 to 300 gms of Petha. In the last few days they have produced about two tones of Petha in different varieties like mango, pineapple and plane variety. While the same sweet with preservatives is sold at Rs 350 to Rs 375 per kilogram at popular sweet shops, we are selling it for Rs 250 for a kilo without any preservatives and chemicals.”

Vishwanath, the innovator of Araga Petha said, “Everyday we are processing about 5 tonnes of ash gourds sourced from farmers. Initially we sold it at the Theerthahalli and Shivamogga market. But due to lock down effect we could not market steadily and hence reaching out to Bengaluru and Vande Bharatam is helping us in reaching out to apartment communities across Bengaluru.”

The sealed pack of Petha has the shelf life of five to six months. “Once opened it has to be consumed in two to three days duration. It is rich in dietary fibre, vitamin B and C , calcium and helps in maintaining blood pressure,” he said. The apartments can reach out to volunteers through their helpline 8495998495 for bulk orders.

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