Farming, considered being the backbone of rural India and employing nearly 60% of the total population was not remunerative enough for a better livelihood. The food that we eat today has lots of chemicals in it, not just packed foods, but also raw fruits and vegetables. The dynamics of agriculture has changed completely since the advent of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
The vegetables and fruits that we consume for leading a healthy life, unfortunately, it is having lots of chemicals and pesticide residues in it. A recent study by ICAR suggests that high levels of chemicals present in some very common vegetables like tomato, green chilli, etc., can cause deadly diseases and even Cancer. To resolve this problem and provide chemical-free food for people myHarvest Farms is started. The Farm is a bunch of youngsters who quit their corporate jobs for bringing about a positive change in the farming sector.
This novel venture seeks to provide a stable income to rural farmers and improve their livelihood by giving urbanites an opportunity to have access to fresh naturally grown food. ‘Chennai’ now has a new route to chemical-free food – myHarvest Farms. We have started operations with 25 families as the first batch of customers who will be growing their own food with myHarvest Farm.
What motivated you to start the company?
The on-going farmer distress troubled us. On knowing that we hail from a rural ancestry, it motivated us to make a change. Interacting with the farmers helped us to track down to the issues faced by farmers in chemical farming methods. Few organic farmers fared better than conventional farmers and hence, we decided to ‘be the change we wanted to see’. With chemicals proliferating in our food, we saw “Natural Farming” as a way out for a better rural economy & better urban life and hence, decided to practice it. The hope to build a sustainable livelihood for villages and the healthier world keeps us going now.
Journey towards startup :
We started this journey by carrying out social work like Tree planting, Pond restoration, Awareness outreach for building sustainable villages. When we realized that changing the farming scenario would impact more lives, we quickly built myHarvest Farms as a social enterprise. As urbanites became more aware of pesticides in food and readily embraced organic products, myHarvest Farms decided to act as a bridge to connect the urbanites with the rural farmers. These efforts had a positive impact on rural society but did not improve the livelihood of the people permanently. We realized that improving agriculture is the key to improve rural economy.
What problems challenged you most how did that affected your startup?
We had quit our corporate jobs to take up the journey as a social entrepreneur. As first generation entrepreneurs, we made mistakes, failed but were quick to bounce back. For example, when we had to convince farmers to go organic, we toiled hard to gain their trust. We were determined and we ourselves got our hands into farming and practiced natural farming. Inspired by the results, farmers quickly adopted natural farming.
We started building the network which eventually became our net worth. Entrepreneur friends motivated us to keep going on this lonely journey of entrepreneurship. Media was kind to talk about our journey which convinced people around us including our families. Now, we are eager to face obstacles but to learn quickly and propel forward.
On joining myHarvest Farms, urban families would benefit from various aspects. Urbanites would get the opportunity to grow their own food and experience real farming at their mini-farms. The subscribers would get chemical-free farm produce grown using natural farming techniques and also get them delivered at their doorstep on the same day of harvest. Besides, one could enjoy visiting the mini-farm with their families and friends and have a great time reconnecting with nature. On the whole, people would enjoy the holistic experience of a sustainable and eco-friendly livelihood.
Apart from urbanites, our venture would immensely benefit farmers as well. Farmers would earn a stable income by working with us and also connect with the customers. They would get a chance to participate in the farm to table journey. Also, going organic would benefit them monetarily and ensure their healthy being. Thus, myHarvest Farms will transform the lives of farmers and also the urbanites.
Benefits of joining myHarvest Farms:
Chemical-Free Farm Produce,
Fresh from Farms,
Stalin Kalidoss (Founder):
Stalin is the real farmer in action at myHarvest Farms. He chose to become a full-time farmer 2 years ago and believes in sustainability and improving the rural economy by improving the farming sector. Stalin has 9 years of work experience at startups and is also the founder of a not for profit called BUDS Trust. Currently, he practices natural farming & creates community farms that grow greens, veggies, herbs. He has also ventured into poultry (country chicken).
Archana Stalin (Co-Founder):
Archana is a first generation entrepreneur but keens on creating social impact. She is an engineer by profession but a change maker by passion. After graduating from College of Engineering, Guindy, she has 9 years of experience working with companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Naturals Salon chain. She is the trustee at BUDS Trust- that enables community-based eco-friendly projects in rural areas. Archana encourages nature-based learning & also helps people become urban farmers by helping them grow their own food. She believes that “Each one of us is a change-maker & we are born to make a difference”.
Anas Mohammed (Co-Founder):
Anas Mohammed is a big advocate for eco-friendly life and is passionate about waste management. He completed his masters in Environmental management from College of Engineering, Guindy recently. He has been working with farmer families during his free time at college and that sparked an interest to do something worthwhile in farming. Anas aspire to build this startup into a social enterprise that is promising for youngsters to join and learn the farming.
About funding from starting of the startup to right now?
So far, we have been bootstrapping and pooling funds from friends and family. We are currently validating to get the business model and we hope to rise from angel investors by the end of this year.
Developments & future plans?
myHarvest Farms was officially launched in June 2018 by Ms.Archana, Mr. Stalin and Mr. Anas Mohammed and received a great response from our well-wishers. We are creating community farms and on an average, there would be around 30 to 40 families growing their own food in one acre of land. We launched our first community farm called Vembu Farms at Sembedu Village near Chennai on Aug 26, 2018, with an event organized to celebrate our first sowing.
Vembu Farms is named after Neem Tree, an indigenous tree and we intend to name all our farms with native trees. We are planning to add 3 more farms in the surroundings of Chennai in the coming months. myHarvest Farms will be launching a few more community farms in the upcoming months. We look forward to filling the plates of more and more people with chemical-free food.
The competitors are Farmizen, Edible Routes, who are in the same field and running successfully.
For young entrepreneurs:
Identify your passion. Believe in it and focus. Give your 100% and follow your passion. Build skills and persevere by trying all that you can. Never give up easily but if you think that it’s not going fine, feel free to move on and work on new ideas. Don’t get emotional about an idea. At the end of the day, it’s all about the experience and the learning.