This Entrepreneur Duo Are Empowering Organic Farmers in the Northeast Region of India
Blessed with fertile land and favorable climate conditions for different crop cultivation, the North-east region of India contributes significantly towards the agricultural sector. Local farmers, particularly in the states of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, have been practicing natural and sustainable techniques of farming for generations.
However, with increasing consciousness among customers and increasing demand for organic food, more and more farmers are adopting practices in line with organic farming standards. Organic foods, apart from being healthy and chemical-free, are a product of environment-friendly agricultural practices – some of the many reasons why organic farming is gaining support and encouragement.
Organics Food Market, a brand by the company BrightCrop Agro Products Pvt. Ltd., supporting natural and organic farming practices in India, was founded by Manjul Kumar Choudhary and Harsh Rakhecha in 2018. Their mission has been to empower organic farming among the small and marginal farmers of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, West Bengal, etc.
Along with Manjul and Harsh, there are around 15 agro professionals, working towards educating, encouraging and guiding local farmers about organic farming, processing, production, along with new and innovative techniques for cultivation.
“We started Organics Food Market as part of one of our courses during MBA, but eventually, it turned out to be a viable business option and we started this company” says Manjul.
Organics Food Market has, till date, collaborated with 1000+ certified organic farmers across India and has a market presence in over 12 states. They produce high-quality, certified organic food products like black rice, brown rice, red rice, spices, and wild honey from the Northeast, wheat from Maharashtra, and so on.
This duo’s hard work and efforts were praised and awarded as the Best Start-up (Eastern Zone) at Agri Startup Awards 2021 hosted by MANAGE, Hyderabad, and Samunnati. Earlier they were also awarded with Business Accelerator Award by Bengal Innovation and Business Acceleration Centre (B-IBAC) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
“Starting something new comes with its own set of challenges” added Manjul.
Nelookup team reached out to Manjul Kumar Choudhary, the founder of Organics Food Market, to know more about his journey.
Aside from starting this as a project, there must be some other reason to carry out this business?
Harsh comes from a business background and was always inclined to start his own entrepreneurial journey. However, for me, I didn’t have any business acumen but today, I’m the only entrepreneur in my family.
Harsh and I always wanted to do something that would excite us and challenge us to solve real-life problems. Hence, the idea of Organics Food Market was born with an aim to bring about a change in the lives of people, especially the farmers in North-east India. Our collaboration provides a platform to these farmers to get better value for their produce.
What are the challenges or failures that you faced during the initial days of this start-up?
Starting something new comes with its own set of challenges and we both don’t belong to an agricultural background; we do have a connection with farming, but we never studied agriculture or even imagined that we would start something related to agriculture. Gaining knowledge about the mechanics of day-to-day work was one of the major challenges we faced.
To start a new business, one needs to procure raw materials and identifying genuine suppliers is the biggest concern, especially when you don’t have enough funds to invest in a startup. Since the day we decided to execute this business, every day has brought with it a new set of challenges.
What benefits does the North-east farming community get through this business?
Our company deals with certified organic food products. We also support farmers pursuing natural methods of agriculture, and these local farmers generate extra money with the help of our business.
While these farmers are experts in their own field, they fall-behind when it comes to adding value to their product. Through our business, we are striving to provide farmers the accurate market value for their products through proper market linkage. Our mission is to double farmers income and till now, we have achieved a 30% premium on every product.
Any memorable moments you want to share with us?
The last three years have been a roller-coaster ride. When we think of what we have achieved, our thoughts go back to the first time we got a packed product in our hand, or the time we met our first customer or the first sale that we made. But what really surprised us was when customers came to us asking specifically for chemical-free products. And from that moment on, we have never looked back.
If you had one piece of advice for our young entrepreneurs and our readers, what would it be?
One thing that we have always been telling our friends and our juniors from college is that always do something which turns you on;
If there’s no fire to achieve something, it becomes very difficult to stay motivated or even cope up with the work that you’re doing. It is that fire within you which keeps the spirit alive, and helps overcome various hurdles in your journey.
Manjul and Harsh, through their business, have generated employment in North-east India. They continue to empower marginal farmers to develop their skills in organic farming techniques. However, awareness regarding the benefits of organic farming and organic produce is still limited. We hope that in times to come, more young entrepreneurs like Manjul and Harsh, work towards the betterment of the farming community of our country and the upliftment of the weaker sections of our society.