This monsoon, you can help grow your organic vegetables and eat them too, even as you develop a special relationship with your business partners: local farmers near Mumbai city.
In June, the Mumbai Organic Farmers and Consumers Association (MOFCA) is set to launch its second season of Hari Bhari Tokri, an initiative that promotes local organic farming through a consumer-supported agricultural model, where the consumer is both an investor in the farm land and a shareholder in the rewards and risks of the business. Citizens who sign up and invest as partners get a weekly tokri (basket) of their share of fresh beans, gourds, and other greens, straight from the farm at a predetermined rate.
“Traditionally, farmers have borne the brunt of nature while consumers have grown increasingly disconnected from the process of food production,” said Ubai Husain, a chef who founded MOFCA as a collective association of farmers and consumers after witnessing a similar agricultural model at work in the United States.
Hari Bhari Tokri’s first season, last year, had 150 city shareholders invest in 2.5 acres of land in districts within a 200-km radius from Mumbai. Though untimely rains delayed the harvest, the business managed to break even.
This year, MOFCA has 20 farmers pledging four acres of land that is likely to yield 400kg of vegetables a week. Starting this Sunday, organisers will host six public meetings till June 19 at different venues in the city, inviting partners for the 200 shares being issued.
“Mumbai has a ready access to organic non-perishable food such as rice or dals, but not vegetables, and this time we are working to make the project more sustainable,” said Neesha Noronha, a yoga teacher and an organising member of MOFCA.