Banyan Roots stems from the vision that traditional farming practices in India must no longer be relegated to the sidelines, or even abandoned in favour of mass-scale agricultural systems and processes. Farmers must be empowered to reclaim their rightful place within the food chain – a right that does not just help to preserve many centuries of learning that would otherwise be lost, but also plays a crucial role in conserving indigenous seeds, and preserving the nutritional integrity and taste of the food we eat, in addition to conserving the quality of the soil it is produced on, which is undoubtedly one of our country’s greatest natural resources.
Our team extensively researched traditional farming techniques and methodologies to find that the food produced through traditional means doesn’t just taste better but is also more nutritious. Modern consumers often cast aside traditionally produced foodstuffs in favour of more heavily marketed and advertised commercial produce. However, going back to our agrarian roots and developing a more holistic view of the food that finally makes its way to our tables are crucial to ensure that Indian farmers and villages have the self-sufficiency that allows them to keep growing nutritious, live-giving produce. Through Banyan Roots, we hope to revive consumers’ interest in indigenous crops and seeds, as well as the time and tradition-tested techniques that are used to tend to them. We seek to create an engaged community that connects both ends of the spectrum – food consumers and producers – and offers them an engaging and collaborative platform.
In October 2011, Banyan Roots was founded as a means to bridge the divide between urban consumers and traditional farmers, giving the former food that they can enjoy and count on for nourishment, while ensuring that farmers to no longer have to forsake sustainable farming for economic reasons. Through a slew of initiatives that are aimed at fulfilling the needs of both farmers as well as the communities they serve, we have been working to bring our vision of sustainable, environment-conscious farming closer to life. At its very essence, Banyan Roots functions as a platform for farmers to seek fair prices for their produce, and for health-conscious consumers to gain easy access to affordable, nutritious food.
One of the key focus areas for Banyan Roots is to strengthen local farming communities – we do this by directly associating with farmers, and retailing their products through our stores and website. We are currently working with 60 farms near Udaipur in Rajasthan, and are working on further expanding our network to include a wider section of the agrarian community.
We conduct knowledge-sharing workshops with these farmers to gain a deeper understanding of their traditional practices, and to also devise ways to seamlessly merge modern equipment and practices, and contemporary business models with time-honoured tradition. In doing so, we hope to take the best of both worlds, developing a sustainable, scientifically-sound agricultural model that is as accessible as it is economically viable. The best practices gleaned from these workshops are seeded across the wider community – farmers are trained in informal cooperative groups, and efforts are made to educate them about the many benefits of organic farming.
Next, Banyan Roots functions as a conduit between the farmers and urban markets, by buying produce from them at fair prices. This serves as immediate incentive for the farmers to continue doing what they do best (namely, cultivate quality crop using traditional techniques), without having to face the additional pressures of navigating a complex and often self-serving network of wholesalers and distributors. In doing so, we instil confidence in the local farming communities and eliminate the need for panicked urban migration, which these farmers often undertake in their quest for better fortunes.
The produce purchased from these farmers is then retailed from our physical and e-commerce stores, giving Indian consumers a reliable supply of nutritious, tasteful food that is produced locally, with complete regard for the wellbeing of the local community and the environment.
Banyan Roots works to inspire trust in the farmers we associate with, as well as the consumers who have come to rely on us for qualitative, delicious and nutritious food. Through our efforts and initiatives, we seek to bind the two – producer and consumer – with the most vital, fundamental bond of them all: wholesome, live-giving food.