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Nari Shakti - A 12 women Self Help group reaching the masses from a tiny village in Palghar, Maharashtra

Updated: May 4

Peth (Palghar), Maharashtra - On the 20th of April, 2024, we visited veteran organic farmer and published author Venkat Iyer at his farm in Peth, Palghar. His 4 acre farm on the bank of the river Vaitarna is an organic farm with his house at the centre and 4 sections which include an orchard of chikoos & Kesar mangoes along with 4 varieties of bananas, a pepper creeper, Jamun & amla trees. He had just harvested the desi toor while the moong (green gram) was in it’s last phase before harvest.

Venkat lives on his holistic organic farm with his wife & co-creator of the farm Meena and a handful of ducks, hen and their dog pepper who greeted us with a lot of warmth.

Nari Shakti & Venkat Iyer

Venkat and Pepper taking us to meet the women behind Nari Shakti at their food processing & packing unit
Venkat and Pepper taking us to meet the women behind Nari Shakti at their food processing & packing unit

While we being showered with his experience & wisdom about organic farming SLO food (a term for Seasonal, Local & Organic food, he coined along with his friends in the organic space), the conversation drifted towards the 12 women self help group he has been supporting helping strengthen with the primary motive to make them independent and share their traditional & clean food with the masses.

The 12 women (The Nari Shakti)

We headed towards the house where the group has set up their food processing & packing unit. The women introduced themselves & shared with us their motive and the various types of Papad, pickles, dry snacks & ladoos they have been making. The also shared the ingredients that they use to make the products. 

“All our products are made using high quality ingredients and we do not cut corners just to get the cost to a certain level as per the market requirements” - they said.

While we were there talking with them, the women continued making their completely hand-made urad papad.

The Shipping Saga

The challenge of high shipping costs & the remote location of the village making it difficult to work with courier companies is something they worked hard to find a solution to, said Venkat.

Finally, they have established their system along with India Post that is working really well for them. The Post office pick up van arrives at 1pm at the post office & they make sure the ready orders have reached the post office before that. India post is most reasonably priced and it typically takes just about 1-2 business days to deliver anywhere in Mumbai.

A Nari Shakti woman preparing papads for drying in the summer sun
A Nari Shakti woman preparing papads for drying in the summer sun

The women handle the complete process themselves now.

The customer mindset & the quality of food in the system - Venkat also delved upon how competing with commercial companies is not their moto and they wish to stick to their quality and beliefs, which is providing clean & good quality products to customers at pricing that covers all costs and helps make the women independent.

A call for awareness

Customer response through WhatsApp has been encouraging, but the masses need to start differentiating between adulterated food and wholesome food while valuing the later for the sake of their personal health & for the larger cause.

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