DAVANAGERE: At a time when majority of farmers are incurring losses and some are committing suicide, a woman agriprenurer is showing them how to turn their life around. 63-year-old Saroja Nagendrappa Patil from Nitturu village in Harihar taluk not only grows crops organically, but
also adds value to her produce, increasing her earnings. She has now become a model for the womenfolk in the region.
The products coming out of her initiative Tadhvanam from this remote village in Davanagere district have reached different parts of the country and globe. She has consistently gained customers that helped her sustain through the difficult pandemic times.
It was in 1987 that Saroja took the tiny step of entrepreneurship by starting a dairy farm and starting a unit to make coir products to bring her family’s economic position back on track. This initiative gave her first lessons in earning money from home.
She also took up teaching fellow women and men farmers through an agriculture department initiative and taught them how to use available resources in their neighborhood, organic pest management and other ways of growing crops. Her stint at guiding other farmers made her a better leader and also gave her new ideas to grow crops naturally. Though initial successes were small, sustained efforts helped her in enriching the family’s 30-acre plot that gave her ever better yields.
“The agriculture department started integrating pest management and included me as a teacher and my farm was selected as the facilitator. We started touring nearly 20 villages every day in and around Harihar. This boosted our confidence and I got acquainted with organic and natural farming at that time,” she says. In her initial days of entrepreneurship, she made ropes and other coir products, like mats and brushes. Though there was a high demand for coir products, she had to stop her unit as getting constant power supply was an issue.
It was during these difficult times that she had her eureka moment and came up with Tadvanam, an organic products consortium in 2004. Even before that, Saroja and her husband sold organically grown produce like paddy, ragi, jowar and millets in the open market at throwaway prices. It was ‘Tadvanam’ that changed her life, enabled her to spread her wings and reach far shores.
Over the years, she participated in numerous exhibitions showcasing her organic products, in Chennai, Ahmedabad, New Delhi and Mumbai. The then Union Minister of Women and Child Welfare Maneka Gandhi, while visiting Saroja’s stall in New Delhi, purchased Tadvanam products and said she was impressed that a woman from a small village had transformed into an entrepreneur.
One of Saroja’s customers was ISKCON, for whom she prepared rice papad as per their specifications using organic products. This gave her confidence that she could prepare any product to any customer and for any specification.
An untiring innovator, she has come out with unique banana flour (BaKaHu), which is highly nutritious and can be an alternative to other flours in the market. It can be prepared from raw bananas, which can double a farmer’s income. It can be used to make dosa, idli, upma, poori, vada, vermicelli and others.
For more information, one can call Saroja Patil on 9900769719.
“I took interest in growing a native paddy crop and also conserving the seeds for the future generation,” she says.
Now, she has around 30 different varieties of native seeds ranging from jowar, white ragi, paddy and others. She also has a set of organic farmers from whom she procures organically grown groundnuts and chillies to make her products.
A unique fare
At Tadhvanam, a customer can purchase energy mix, ragi maldi (sweet ragi powder mixed with various spices, native herbs and jaggery); dry fruit laddu; rava idli mix (with millets); navane bisibelebath mix, ragi vermicelli, rice vermicelli, wheat vermicelli, groundnut chutney powder, niger seed chutney powder, flax seed chutney powder, barnyard millet poha (parched rice), little millets poha, kodo millet poha, ragi poha, banana powder (BaKaHu), ragi papad, rice papad, urad papad, jowar papad, pearl and all millet papads, poha mixture. All these products are made from naturally grown products.
Saroja Nagendrappa Patil from Nitturu village in Harihar taluk is an agripreneur whose organic products, under the initiative Tadhvanam, are sold across the world. Starting small, she is now an inspiration to women of the region
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