February 9, 2021
What could an architect possibly have to do with mango growers? Help them build their dreams. That’s exactly what Atul Johri is doing. Short-changed by middlemen who buy their produce for dirt cheap prices, Channapatna mango growers were getting a raw deal all this while. But not any more, thanks to Atul’s Tulsi Farm Initiative.
Once based out of Bengaluru, Atul, 48, moved to Channapatna around nine years ago to work with local lacquer artists. He bought a farmland in Tagachegere, a village known for its mango groves. As days passed, Atul learnt about the many issues mango growers faced, especially because of unscrupulous middlemen who’d eat into their profits. He heard stories where farmers were pushed to sell their land to make ends meet.
According to Atul, natti, the local variety of mangoes cultivated in Channapatna, is not just cheaper but also healthier. This is because these mangoes are plucked along with their stems which helps preserve their freshness; they are ripened using rice hay. “Naturally grown mangoes can never acquire the uniform yellow colour that we see in artificially ripened fruits,” says Atul, adding chemicals like carbide and ethylene are used to artificially ripen fruits which can be harmful for those savouring them. Channapatna farmers, though, were unable to get any profit for their pesticide and chemical-free produce.
Once Atul took up their cause, better marketing and direct selling made a big difference to the lives of these local farmers. Atul used his contacts in Whitefield to spread the word in apartments about the locally grown natti variety of mangoes. Using the Tulsi logo, farmers can now directly reach out to customers. “Also, at Rs 150 a kg, they offer a competitive price when compared to the retail outlets in the city,” says Atul.
Lingaraj, a farmer who earned only Rs 60,000 for his six tonnes of produce last year, has been able to see his profits soar to over Rs 2 lakh this season.
By Krithika ChandrasekarArticle fromTOI