It might have been difficult to point Bhuira, a little-known village in the interiors of Rajgarh and Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh, on the map. But for one thing — its jam.
Ten years after Linnet Mushran — a 67-year-old enterprising British lady married to an Indian — rolled out the brand, Bhuira jams have travelled all over the country and are stocked by upmarket brands such as Fabindia.
Linnet’s factory in Bhuira produces one lakh bottles with a 25-product range, including jams, jellies and marmalades. They are processed from grape fruit, apricot, apple, cherry, mango, kiwi and wild fruit achhu. The tomato chutney is a killer, say all those who have tasted it.
How did it all begin? In 1992, Linnet bought a cottage with a small apple orchard around the village. In 1999, the abundance of fruits around Bhuira made her experiment with a recipe from childhood. “My mother used to make jams out of the fruits that grew in our small garden,” she says. “So I trained the local women. Now, I have a team that is capable of taking decisions for the company.’’ The fruits for the factory are sourced from around 100 farmers and she employs at least 40 women in peak season.
Two women manage the venture and take decisions in Linnet’s absence. Those who are trained in computers, keep in touch with dealers on e-mail. The women are paid Rs. 3000-Rs 5,200 a month. Linnet has also opened accounts for them in the local bank. “The work has given us strength. Also, now I have the right to take decisions at home,’’ says Tara, 30, one of the first employees of Bhuira jam.
Now, there are plans to open an additional production unit. But the venture lacks marketing support. The factory has been able to stay afloat with Linnet’s family money. She hopes that she can steady the venture by spreading the work through the year. “The government should replicate this model to boost rural economy,’’ she says.