PUNE: “It is necessary to create an adequate system where the organically grown healthy vegetables and fruits find a way to reach the customers at affordable rates without any greedy middlemen,” said Dr Dwarkanath Kharde, a retired doctor who has been selling healthy farm produce in Pimpri-Chinchwad for the past 10 years.
“Presently, I am associated with a group of 25 farmers, and trying to reach out to as many more as possible. It is difficult to divert the farmers towards organic farming However, we are trying our best. We give assurance to all the farmers associated with us that as long as they follow the organic way, and continue to yield systematically, we will keep buying their produce,” he said.
"They will get the exact amount of returns as promised by us,” Kharde added. As he was the past president of Rotary Club, Kharde, in association with the club, has launched his project ‘Sheti Vachava Shetkari Vachava’ (Save farming, save farmers) in Pimpri-Chinchwad.
He added, “I believe that organic food must be available to everyone. So we sell the vegetables at minimum possible price, also ensuring that the farmer is not denied his due share in the process. In fact, every year, in the first week of January itself, I make a rate card and give it to all my customers, no matter what changes take place in the market, I sell the vegetables for the same price.”
What had begun as a small experiment for him around 10 years ago has now turned into a project, a movement, where Kharde not just aims to provide the farmers with a platform to sell organic produce, but also a medium for the general public to buy these products at affordable rates.
“Around 10 years ago, in Nashik, I met a farmer who was exporting his best quality grapes as he insisted that there was no market for the produce in India that would give him adequate returns. Promising to provide him a market and profits, I began selling his produce in Chinchwad. After some failures and lukewarm response in the beginning, what actually caught up with the people were the organically grown watermelons, which brought them back in praise of the fruit, they said,” Kharde narrated.
Being an expert in naturopathy, with his research into organic produce and its benefits, the doctor found this a great opportunity to bring about a collaboration with the farmers. “We are soon planning to set up centres at all housing societies associated with us, and we are looking for manpower that could help us,” he said.
SALE AT 5 HOUSING SOCIETIES
Dr Dwarkanath Kharde has been selling organic vegetables to five out of the 70 housing societies under the Federation of Cooperative Housing Societies in Pimpri-Chinchwad, with plans to cover all.
PROMOTING ORGANIC FARMING
- Calling his buyers, sellers and producers part of his movement to promote organic farming and ensure justice to farmers, Dr Dwarkanath Kharde has sought participation from NGOs and associations in the city.
- Kharde has been selling the vegetables and fruits bought from the farmers at his shop ‘Chaitanya Organic’ in Chinchwad for 10 years.
- The shop gives out franchises at no cost whatsoever, and all they need to do is promise to sell the vegetables at a fixed price, no matter what.
- The sellers set up a two-hour stall and every day, Chaitanya Organic buys back all that is remaining.