Have you ever taken a camel ride? I once did as a kid. My dad made me sit on a camel during a Diwali fair near my house (held annually even today). Initially, I was scared as I felt I was sitting on a rocking chair. I soon got accustomed to the strange movement, but shortly after that, the ride ended. Another memorable point of the ride was the camel turning around to give us a big grin!
That’s the closest I ever got to the ship of the desert, which was once used for transportation and farming in Rajasthan.
Today, however, camels are struggling for survival as Rabari-Raikas, the traditional camel herding community of Western India, is rapidly taking up farming due to the availability of water through the Indira Gandhi Canal.
Amid this, 27-year-old Aakriti Srivastava is working to revive pastoralism by making camels useful once again. She has set up Bahula Naturals, which is empowering 4,000 pastoralists of the Thar Desert by training them in dairy best practices and buying their produce. It makes cow and camel milk artisanal cheeses including Halloumi, Feta, aged cheese Cheshire etc. and sells them across India.
Aakriti told me that she is developing the startup as India’s first net-zero dairy that starts at the farm level and reaches the consumer with zero carbon footprint. All the processing is done using solar energy and dairy micro-entrepreneurs, mostly women, are now dotting the landscape of Thar. Don’t miss this interesting story.
My colleague Aruna wrote about Karnataka’s 500-year-old Bidri craft, which was once patronised by royalty. An alloy of zinc and copper is the base metal for making artefacts on which geometric and floral patterns are drawn freehand using a stylus. Artisans then insert silver wires into the grooves and fix them firmly using a chisel and hammer.
But what I found to be the most interesting aspect of the crafting process is the use of soil from the Bidar Fort! After the metal surface is smoothened using sandpaper, the handmade items are coated with this soil, which has special chemicals. And that’s why the craft received the geographical indication tag in 2006! Bidri Fort’s soil gives a unique finish to the black and silver vases, wall plates, paper knives, cardholders and hundreds of other Bidriware items. Interesting! Isn’t it?
We have another story from Karnataka this week. It’s about 29-year-old Amogh Jaghtap, who took up farming after completing his MBA in 2016. The advantage of today’s educated farmers is their ability to link up with markets and grow produce as per the demand.
Amogh follows natural farming and sells his packaged tender coconut under the Cocoman brand. His sugarcane juice is sold in MNC cafeterias in Bengaluru while country eggs retail for Rs15 per piece through his own farmer-to-consumer outlets. His annual profit is Rs 30 lakh. In all, Amogh is using his MBA learning to make the most out of his farming business. Do read up on this young farmer’s enterprising story.
Our Sunday piece is mouth-watering! It is about ten lesser-known foods you can eat only during the Monsoons. The list includes Jharkhand’s Rugda mushrooms, which taste like meat and fiddlehead ferns that grow in Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir during the rains. And yes, they are all rich in minerals, micronutrients and are natural immunity boosters.