According to Mallesh Tingali, Founder of the online market place for organic products Purna Organics, awareness about healthy lifestyles is growing across India and Bengaluru is the “happening place for the organic movement.” More precisely, he says that such lifestyles are coming back after a big chunk of the population have switched to eating readily available vegetables in stores, which contain high levels of pesticide residue.
Purna Organics was founded in 2008 in Bengaluru to promote the concept of ‘Take Control of What You Eat’ and has so far reached 10,000 customers in India.They started from the roots, encouraging people to grow their own vegetables. “Purna Organics stepped in by introducing the high density vegetable gardening in planter boxes, which are setup in small areas in and around homes, including places like balconies and terraces. These boxes also come with self watering technology to address the need of urban dwellers, who are often short of time,” explains Mallesh.
He tells us that their planter boxes are made of food grade plastic which prevent the chemicals from leaching into the growing media over time. “The planter boxes are UV stabilized for long life, even when exposed to harsh sun,” adds Mallesh.
All their products are available online along with instructional videos and manuals to help setup and maintain the gardens. “We also conduct trainings on installation and garden maintenance both in person and over the web and thereby handhold our customers in this journey,” says Mallesh.
The second step was to create programs to make gardening more interesting. Mallesh introduces us to e-Gardening as “a very innovative program where garden enthusiasts, all across India, can attend our training programs sitting in the comforts of their homes learning over the web. We have trained over 500 people during the last year.” Moreover, the team has set up EcoPal and Garden Connect for schools and corporates respectively. “EcoPalhas reached 3,000 school children and helped them connect with the food they eat; whereas Garden Connect has trained close to 1,000 employees across multiple corporate companies encouraging them to engage in gardening during their break and take it up as a hobby.”
Finally, Purna Organics has expanded their offer. “In addition to the planter boxes (patent pending), we also offer organic garden inputs, organic pest control systems andgarden tools.” The team has also included products like food items, personal and beauty care in their catalogue. “Customers can pay either by debit/credit card or cash on delivery,” explains Mallesh and adds that, “since our products are very easy to setup, most often customers assemble it by themselves or we provide them telephonic support if required. Customers in Bengaluru have the option of taking help from our team for the installation at their homes.”
Although there are many companies that are selling products or offering consulting advice for urban organic farming, Mallesh underlines that Purna Organics sets itself apart. “We are the pioneer in collectively offering training, products and service in an organized manner,” he says.
The next step for the company will be rolling out a market place for organic certified products that will allow producers sell to a larger audience. “We are reaching out to enlist these producers from all parts of the country. In the process we expect to offer a very rich and wide range of organic certified products across food, home, health and wellness, and lifestyle to consumers helping them in the adoption of holistic organic living,” Mallesh tells us.
Mallesh adds, “Currently, we are in Beta testing stage and will be rolling out this platform very soon. Our ultimate goal is to lead an organic revolution in the nation where organic food becomes affordable to all.” Organic farming is indeed gaining momentum in the Indian market and several other platforms are setting up distribution platforms. However, the obstacle that many face is the inability to scale beyond hyperlocal or local level. Nonetheless, Mallesh’s sounds very optimistic when he says, “We will reach out to all the parts of the country both for producers of organic certified products and end customers by offering them all the necessary products for a more holistic organic way of living.”