Thenga, Kadaknath and olive farming

A consultant who now recycles coconut shells, an ex-commando who grows olives, a housewife who changed her family's fortunes with Kadaknath poultry farming, and a queen's tribute to her husband through a water temple are all part of this newsletter

Rashmi Pratap
New Update

Thenga, Kadaknath and olive farming

Dear Reader,

When I was in high school, olive oil was all the rage. No, it wasn’t to dress salads or pan-fry veggies. At that time, the Figaro brand, imported into India by some traders, was used by mothers of us girls to get thick, long hair! Without the Internet, I don’t know how my mother learned about olive oil’s hair growth properties and applied it religiously twice a week on my scalp.

By the time I was married, olive oil had moved from my head to my pizza! Yes! The taste of pizzas increases manifolds with a drizzling of olive oil before it goes into the oven.

And last week, I discovered more about olives than I had known all these years. Mukesh Manjoo, an ex-commando turned farmer, told me that olive trees live for a thousand years; animals don’t eat them because their leaves are tough to chew; its leaves are used to make olive leaf tea; the bark is used to make medicines and you can sell organic olive oil at Rs1500 per litre!

Mukesh earns Rs10 lakh per acre from organic farming of olives, which are bought by some of the top companies in India. Do read his story.

My colleague Riya spoke to Kerala-based Maria Kuriakose, who quit her job as a consultant to recycle coconut shells. Her enterprise Thenga Coco turns coconut shells into lasting, sustainable handmade products. Women make up around 80% of her workforce and she provides a dignified livelihood to coconut craftspeople who were giving up the art because of a lack of buyers. 

Maria’s journey from the backyard of her house to a Rs1-crore enterprise is interesting as well as inspiring much like the story of Jhabua’s Pushpa Dohare.

Pushpa began Kadaknath chicken farming in 2019 when her family struggled with low agriculture profitability. She now sells the desi breed chicken at Rs 500 per kg and eggs at Rs 25 a piece to buyers from Madhya Pradesh and nearby states. The story details how Pushpa changed her family’s fortune with the farming of this indigenous breed. Do look it up!

With mercury soaring high, heat is on everybody’s mind. My Madurai-based colleague Anu has put together a piece on traditional house designs that remain cool in scorching heat. For centuries, people living in the deserts of western India have been beating the summer heat through local architecture. Anu’s story will take you through five of those innovative designs.

And our Sunday story is around water. Queen Udayamati, the wife of King Bhima I of the Chalukya dynasty, built the Rani ki vav in Patan, Gujarat, in the 11th century. An inverted temple divided into seven levels of stairs, the stepwell was buried under silt for 700 years before it was rediscovered in the 1940s! 

Happy Reading!





This innovative farmer earns Rs 10 lakh per acre with olive farming; sells oil at Rs1500 per litre


This consultant quit her job to recycle coconut shells; empowers artisans and women


Jhabua housewife changes her family’s fortunes with Kadaknath poultry farming; sells chicken at Rs 500 per kg


Rani ki Vav: A queen’s tribute to her husband through a water temple