OrgTree’s manufacturing facility is located in our village Thenkahalli in Mandya District. Mandya is considered to be the hotbed of Cauvery dispute. The Shivanasamudra waterfall is about 10 km from the village. We call it ‘Bluff’, am not sure how this name came to be. The Asia’s first hydroelectric power station, Shimsha is also around 12 km. Our village and most of Malvalli Taluk is not irrigated yet has a picturesque landscape. One would wonder how, in spite of a beautiful river flowing few kilometers away, water cannot be drawn, but let us just attribute it to the scarcity and high demand for water.
We always grew crops that are rain dependent, Finger Millet (Ragi), Little Millet (Saame), Sorghum (Jola), and a variety of beans (Avarekalu, Alasande, Thadaguni). Rice was imported from outside, so was wheat. We then figured out we can dig earth a few feet and get water to irrigate and grow Rice and other high-water intensive crops. Millets fell out of fashion and they became uncool. Ragi remained, there was a little demand and also because a hard-working farmer needed Ragi Mudde (Ragi Ball). American corn was easier to grow, demand for corn grew and we made a little more money with it. The ground water started depleting each year; the rains are unpredictable and de-forestation added to other challenges. This year’s crop is mostly wiped off for lack of rain.
The village population unable to afford a decent life; start to migrate into cities, in search of jobs, in search of better life. Also, the awe associated with cities lures the crowd into a service-run economy and make some money in the process.
The question is why did millets run out of fashion? Because, Consumer ran out of… ok, we chose to import rice and wheat. The Governments started supplying rice and wheat freely to BPL (Below Poverty Line) families and at a nominal price to the average population. Both made inroads into every nook and corner of the region.
Well, did I blame many things – water problem, millets going out of fashion, rice/wheat-making inroads, depleting ground water, migrating to cities, consumer behavior…? First set of things that we decided at OrgTree, we would never show farmers in poor light, we would not complain, we would not use emotional sales tactics in the name of farmers. Rice and Wheat are good crops but should be balanced with Millets.
OrgTree could not be founded based on these blame-games. OrgTree is a foundation created to set things right. We create value right at the village and demand right price for the goods. It is a for-profit, social enterprise. Let me explain,
- Millets need much low amount of water than rice. Rainwater is sufficient mostly and do not need pesticides or chemicals.
- Millets are a rich source of minerals, vitamins and protein. They are gluten-free and alkaline in nature.
- Consumers need health, a balanced diet. Millets alkalize the effect of rice and wheat. Millets also help in slow release of sugar into the blood. Reduced amount of food intake.
- Farmers need right value for their growth. Farmers have every right to live a quality of life that we all so demand.
So, Consumers need health, Farmers need value for their effort. In the process Mother Earth is smiling. The sustainable eco-system. OrgTree pioneers this cause.