Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Hearty Mart Farm2Market: Sowing Change in Gujarat’s Agricultural Landscape

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Hearty Mart’s innovative venture, Farm2Market, goes beyond traditional retail, revolutionizing the traditional retail, revolutionizing the agricultural landscape in Gujarat.

From empowering local farmers to pioneering Eri-Silk cultivation, the brand’s visionary approach not only fosters a mutually beneficial ecosystem but also positions them at the forefront of positive change in the region.

As they secure incubation support from NABARD and SDAU, Hearty Mart Farm2Market’s journey exemplifies how businesses can drive impactful transformations for both themselves and the communities they serve.

Hearty Mart has garnered considerable acclaim for its distinctive business approach, notably for introducing contemporary retail and sophisticated bakery experience to tier-2 and tier-3 locations in Gujarat. Undoubtedly, the brand has become synonymous with venturing into untapped markets and strategically investing in areas typically considered less favourable for business development. Another key illustration of this strategy is the lesser talked about Hearty Mart Farm2Market, emblematic of the brand’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurial fervour in urban spaces.

The concept of Farm2Market took root in 2017 when a group of fruit farmers approached the leadership of Hearty Mart with a proposal to utilize surplus fruit produce. What began as a localized initiative soon evolved into a broader outreach to the agricultural community, extending beyond fruit juices to encompass various agricultural products. Hearty Mart, already a prominent player in the HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants, and Catering) sector in Gujarat, recognized the potential of robust backward integration.

As discussions progressed within the leadership, they became increasingly attuned to the concerning trend of local farmers selling their lands and migrating to urban areas due to an unstable income. This realization fuelled the vision of incorporating farmers into the Hearty Mart family, laying the foundation for Hearty Mart Farm2Market.

Reflecting on this venture, Nadeem Jafri, Founder and Chief Mentor, Hearty Mart, explained, “with Farm2Market, we aimed to establish a robust backward integration channel for our companies. Through Farm2Market, we seek to directly source grains from farmers and distribute them to retail customers through our supermarkets, as well as to Hotels and Restaurants via our HoReCa division.”

He further emphasized, “Our goal is to create a sustainable source of income for small farmers in Gujarat, providing market linkages, connecting them with resources and experts to exponentially increase their income. In doing so, we aim to foster a mutually beneficial scenario for all stakeholders involved.”

In Bakar Ali and Maherban, Hearty Mart discovered two enterprising farmers who were actively seeking avenues to enhance the income streams of farmers in their region. As fellow farmers, they possessed an intimate understanding of the challenges associated with securing fair prices in the market.

Subsequently, the Hearty Mart Farm2Market warehouse was established in Jadar, Idar, located in the Sabar Kantha district of Gujarat—a region renowned for the cultivation of Castor, Cotton, Soybean, and Wheat. They forged a strategic partnership with Ihsedu Agrochem Pvt. Ltd., wherein the latter committed to supplying castor seeds to Farm2Market-affiliated farmers at a price below market rates, while also purchasing the produce from these farmers at a premium compared to market prices. This innovative arrangement propelled Farm2Market to gain substantial traction within the region.

Presently, Farm2Market operates in 43 villages across Gujarat, collaborating with over 2000 farmers and 2 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and has 2 selling points beyond the warehouse in Jadar, Idar. This expansive reach underscores the successful integration of Hearty Mart’s vision with the entrepreneurial spirit of local farmers, fostering a mutually beneficial ecosystem that addresses the challenges faced by farmers in the pursuit of fair and sustainable livelihoods. Yet, their visionary aspirations extend beyond conventional trading.

Bakar Ali articulates their broader goal, stating, “We don’t want to merely engage in trading; we aim to catalyse a transformative shift in the agricultural landscape of our region. To realize this, we’ve been diligently piloting Eri-Silk production for the past two years, and the outcomes are indeed promising.” Farm2Market introduced a distinctive initiative by cultivating Eri-Silk in Sabarkantha, Gujarat, leveraging Castor leaves as a key element in the silk cocoon development process.

This innovative solution delivers a host of socially impactful outcomes. Primarily, it pledges to diversify the agricultural panorama by introducing Eri Silkworm-based silk production to a region currently limited to the cultivation of a few crops. The successful adoption of Eri-Silk cultivation not only broadens the spectrum of crops in the area but also generates fresh employment opportunities, especially for older individuals and women. Eri-Silk cultivation proves less labor-intensive than traditional crops like castor, offering a more accessible avenue for employment. Moreover, utilizing castor leaves as silkworm feed maximizes resource utilization, given the abundance of castor leaves in the region.

This innovative approach has not only garnered attention within the agricultural realm but is also making waves in business circles. Farm2Market’s pioneering efforts have been recognized through their recent incubation at the NABARD-assisted SDAU (Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University) incubation center. This strategic partnership not only validates their innovative vision but also positions them to scale this initiative to the next stage. The incubation support holds the promise of catalyzing a substantial shift within the agricultural landscape of Gujarat. As they embark on the next phase of growth with the support of NABARD and SDAU, Hearty Mart Farm2Market’s journey serves as an inspiring narrative of how visionary businesses can drive positive change, fostering a resilient and prosperous future for both the business and the communities they engage with.

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