KOCHI: For the 35-year-old anganwadi helper-turned-farmer Haseena, the weekly gathering at MAAM LP School at Kakkanad has taken a new turn. Sundays were usually busy for Haseena, who brings all organically-produced veggies from North Paravoor to the school for thousands who long for pesticide-free farm produces. More than 55 farmers are part of this venture. But, last month’s deluge washed away her dreams and all the crops harvested on her 30 cents of land taken on a lease.
This precarious situation prompted software engineer Hari Ram, the brain behind ‘Nattu Chantha’, and his associates to use the first anniversary of the farmers’ collective to support Haseena and many like her ravaged in the flood by giving away grow bags, on Sunday.
On the occasion, the farmers contributed Rs 10,001 to the CM’s relief fund and handed over the money to District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirullah, who inaugurated the first anniversary of ‘Nattu Chantha’.
He also handed over the grow bags to Parvathy Krishnan, a Class V student of Sree Saraswathy Vidyanikethan who had earlier given her piggy box savings towards CM’s relief fund. The over 1000-member Nattu Chantha WhatsApp group was actively involved in the relief activities after suspending their farming activities.
“We started the venture last year with just nine farmers and 30 consumers. But, in a year this has transformed itself into a strong support base to 55 farmers and has over 1,000 consumers,” says Hari Ram.
Its popularity is vouched for by the fact that thousands throng the LP School premises from 8 am to 10 am even after the one-month lull. The early birds were lucky enough to grab the best bunch of spinach, pudina, curry leaves and banana flowers.
Takers are aplenty for the cow’s milk, ghee, buttermilk (which comes all the way from Thodupuzha) and the farm fresh eggs, especially those of ‘karingkozhi’. And, in less than an hour, most of the stalls are left empty.
The eggless wheat brownies, cakes and banana flower cutlets at the confectionaries counter sell off like hot cakes. Those who are concerned about their hair fall can walk to 25-year-old Irfan. His counter has special henna with a mix of beetroot and gooseberry juices and a special face pack.
“Unlike the usual organic mantra used for hype in business, we strictly stick to our farming ethics. For that our members conduct surprise raids at the farmers’ sites to ensure they adhere to the organic practices. At times, we had to eliminate some of them who were found erring,” says Dr Suchitra Ramanandam, an active member of Nattu Chantha, re-christened Nattu Nanma on Sunday.