Free-range eggs and microgreens

A college teacher whose venture became the biggest supplier of microgreens in Gujarat, India's first free-range farm that sells eggs at Rs25 a piece, and an MBA farmer who has changed the lives of hundreds of farmers are all part of this newsletter

Rashmi Pratap
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Free-range eggs and microgreens

Free-range eggs and microgreens

Dear Reader,

Whenever I travel to India’s hinterland, be it Maharashtra, Bihar, Tamil Nadu or Uttar Pradesh, a common sight is chickens and hens roaming around freely. Almost every family rears these birds. They eat grains and greens, add colour to the landscape and the roosters make mornings special with their crowing. Their eggs, commonly known as ‘desi’ eggs, have bright and big yolks and are sold at a premium.

However, most of the eggs in the market are from caged hens. My colleague Chandhini writes that these cramped cages are usually the size of an A4 sheet, depriving the birds of sunlight, fresh air, freedom and everything else that the outdoors offer.

Manjunath Marappan and Ashok Kannan set up India’s first free-range farm in 2014 to re-introduce humane practices in poultry farming. Their Bengaluru-based Happy Hens Farm, with a daily production of 20,000 eggs, partners with small farmers in three states. The organic Omega 3-rich eggs, produced by free-roaming hens, are priced at Rs25 per piece and promote rural entrepreneurship.

Chandhini’s story traces the duo’s journey from inception to annual revenues of Rs8 crore and it makes for an interesting read.

From Ahmedabad, my colleague Aruna wrote about Mali Greens, set up by Aditi Mali, a college teacher. In 2021, to familiarize her students with farming, she began growing microgreens -- vegetables and herbs harvested at the seedling stage when only their seed leaves have developed.

That tutorial turned into a venture and Mali Greens is now one of the biggest producers of organic microgreens in Gujarat. The sales are growing at 150% annually and it supplies microgreens, including live trays, to top hotels, wholesalers and retail subscribers across the state.

Last week, I spoke to Akshay Sagar, a 31-year-old star farmer from Atpadi in Sangli, Maharashtra. He did his MBA, worked with two companies and then quit his job to go back to his village and work with small and marginal farmers. 

Incessant rains in 2020 destroyed pomegranate orchards in Sangli and Akshay began by first rebuilding his parents’ farm. Then he began helping other farmers with newer methods of cultivation and organic practices. 

Today, wholesalers come to his farm with packaging materials to buy the pomegranates and pay him 40% more than the market rates. He has also connected other farmers to buyers, with 250 wholesalers now directly procuring from them. It goes on to show that one educated farmer can change the lives of hundreds of others. 

Our Sunday feature is on the hidden Grand Canyon of India – Kadiya Dhro in Bhuj, Gujarat. This place was not on Google Maps until The New York Times selected it as one of the ‘52 Best Places to Visit in 2021’. How did it happen? The article has the details.

Tomorrow is the festival of colours. Team 30Stades wishes you and your loved ones a very Happy Holi! May the vibrant colours add joy to every life!





How Happy Hens Farm reached Rs 8 crore revenues with its free-range eggs


How this teacher-cum-urban farmer built a successful microgreens business in Gujarat


This MBA quit his job for pomegranate farming in Sangli; gets 40% more than market rates


Kadiya Dhro: The hidden Grand Canyon of India