When we chose Antharam for our next project, we made sure it was not on the highway. We picked the site that was closer to the village. In addition to Antharam, there are four other villages within a radius of 5 kms. We named the project Antharam to bring the focus to the village and its activities.
We began with a social survey of these villages to understand their ethos and arrive at what was required. We mapped the social profile including demographics, economics, health, education of all age groups and the livelihood opportunities people are seeking at this point in time. We assessed the outcomes and prioritized the essentials keeping mind the fact that urbanites will be moving into the eco-habitats and foreseeing their inter-personal dynamics with the villagers. We considered the short-term and long-term interventions that were necessary for symbiotic co-existence.
Our research revealed that many of the villagers were into farming cotton, fox tail millets, jowar, and maize along with some vegetables. Antharam isn’t a wealthy village and hasn’t yet been affected by the real estate industry. Due to this, Organo has an advantage of connecting Antharam residents directly to farmers, who would otherwise focus on real estate rather than farming. For crops that may not grow within the community due to various reasons such as water availability, land availability, etc. The farmers could fill the gap by supplying such produce to the community.
We have collaborated with Sathya Raghu and his organization Kheyti, to equip the farmers with the know-how of better agricultural practices with organic methods to start with. However, we will not push them too hard till they understand and convert to natural methods willingly. To our surprise, we found that many of the farmers are aware of organic practices and are eager to implement them in their existing farms if there is a demand for the organic produce.
In the meantime, we are putting efforts to connect them directly to Organo customers, their friends, and families through the Organo Farm Store, so that a relationship is built between the two.
While this process is going on, we realized that some kind of intervention is required to improve the education of children and young adults in the villages. It is heartwarming to know that some Organo Antharam residents have come forward to contribute toward this cause.
We’ve also identified agencies to upskill the villagers in farming and technical fields as well, to enable them to become a part of our maintenance teams.
Right now, these are our five focus areas – skill development, livelihood opportunities, education, converting the farmers to organic practices and connecting farmers directly to consumers. Once we set these in motion, we would also like to take up watershed management, water conservation, rain-water harvesting and such measures to reduce water & soil depletion. Our end goal is to make them able, aware and to create market systems and eco-systems to help them flourish and make them independent while contributing to the overall betterment of Organo Antharam.