In life, you reach a point where you feel at peace with yourself and everything around. You want to give back to the community that has helped you grow, built you and supported you. We felt this a few years ago when we were on our trip to China. As we strolled through the small towns, we realized that the size of their towns did not restrict their growth and development. Even the smallest of the towns were at par with the major cities in terms of health, educational and recreational facilities. Every other trip we took abroad, added to this realization. However, the small towns in our country lag in terms of development.
That is when we decided to do something about it. As said by the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world’. This idea motivated us to initiate a venture that would not only lead to development but also provide better nutrition and thus improve the health of smaller communities. Our search for a land for this venture brought us to Konkan. Konkan is full of natural beauty with its mesmerizing beaches, beautiful coconut, cashew, and mango trees amongst others. Another attraction was proximity to the ‘Temple of Keshavraj’, our Kuldaivat or our ancestral tutelary deity.
We bought a land which had not been cultivated for a long time.
We observed that the farmers of our vicinity were engaged only in growing rice as it was more profitable than growing Ragi and Varai, two millets that are native to this area. Rice consumes more water and is grown in fields accumulated with water. When we export rice, we are sharing our essential resource, water, with others. In our effort towards ‘Food and Water Security’ we decided to cultivate our land using minimal water, fertilizers and pesticides. Since, our aim was to maximize nutrition over production; millets i.e. Ragi and Varai, were an excellent fit because of their new found status as a ‘super-food’. Also, the geographical conditions in Konkan support and enhance the growth of Millets. However, the farmers were giving up cultivation of Ragi and Varai due to lack of ready market for millets. This has led to a change in eating habits; millets have been replaced by cheaper alternatives like wheat. We believe that these changed dietary patterns have caused various health conditions associated with improper nutrition. Thus, we not only want to encourage farmers to grow and consume millets, but also create a market for their produce through the products of Sonkan.
Thus, Sonkan has enhanced opportunities for the native farmers and also for the local women by creating employment for them. This would support their development. It is expected to eventually reduce the rate of migration of these small communities to the cities.
Join us, as we have embarked on this journey to create quality products made from our naturally grown and cultivated Ragi and Varai. While you, the urban citizens, get to include these wonderful millets in your diet through the easy to cook products of Sonkan, the local communities get a chance to develop their village. This also promotes Women Empowerment, creates a healthy community and builds a future where small communities do not need to migrate to cities and burden the already overburdened infrastructure such as space (parking, roads, accommodation) and water. This will help these communities to stay connected to their roots, continue to engage in agriculture and still improve their lifestyle and live a happier and healthier life.