Deepti Mehrotra quit a cushy job in Hyderabad and went back to Lucknow to start Jeevaniya Naturals, which is building a strong supply chain network for organic farmers.
Organic products and food have carved a strong niche among the health-conscious, and demand has steadily been on the rise. However, supply has not always been able to match up leading to spikes in prices of organic products on the one hand, and farmers left with their produce.
To bridge this gap, father-daughter duo of Deepti Mehrotra and Narendra Nath Mehrotra are building a supply chain network to connect the producers with end buyers.
Having worked for a few startups, Deepti decided to go back home to Lucknow and take on from her father, and founded organic farm to home company Jeevaniya Naturals.
Deepti's father Dr Narendra Nath Mehrotra had founded the Jeevaniya Society 27 years ago and the non-government organisation has worked towards promotion of traditional health, farming and education systems.
She recounts that her father was a keen promotor and supporter of traditional agriculture, and visited villages and farms to impart his knowledge.
“We have been aware of all the organic practices, such as the use of cow dung and gaumutra, since childhood. My father has been running this voluntary organisation, Jeevaniya Society for the last 27 years. The society is the backbone of Jeevaniya Naturals,” she says.
A pioneer of AYUSH principles, the organisation has been working not only with people in the hinterlands, but also with several government and non-government networks on setting up health camps, promoting cultivation, and use of medicinal and aromatic plants. Jeevaniya Society has worked with hundreds of farmers from across India, teaching them the practice of traditional farming methods.
Rajiv Joshi, a chartered accountant by profession who cultivates organic vegetables and pulses. He says, “Our farm is in Sitapur road, Lucknow, and we cultivate turmeric, paddy, vegetables, banana, corn, wheat and mustard on around 13 acres. I sell part of my produce, especially wheat and corn, to Jeevaniya. Our farm is an organic certified by the horticulture department of the government.”
Despite the huge push for organic products, both Both Deepti and Rajiv say that awareness for the products is low among consumers.
Deepti’s venture, Jeevaniya Naturals, promotes preventive and sustainable healthcare and the use of organic and other traditional health and wellness products. She has a store in Lucknow which retails products sourced from her network of organic farmers.
“We have opened Lucknow's first complete organic superstore to market products directly procured from farmers such as pulses, cereals, grains, spices, herbs, squashes, snacks, health foods, etc,” she says.
The store also retails organic clothes, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, and essential oils. “We also support and promote several other products, especially those made by women entrepreneurs, which can help people lead an organic, sustainable and ethical life. We stock products like biodegradable organic cotton sanitary napkins and crockery, as well bamboo-based products,” says Deepti.
“We also want to create and promote women Self-Help Groups to scale up our enterprise,” she adds.
The store also serves as a hub to promote health and wellness activities through free interactive sessions with its customers on various health issues, where it invite specialists from different branches of medicine and different schools, mostly AYUSH.
Deepti and her father are supported by several eminent doctors and consultants from various fields like Dr Nuzhat Kausal, a senior immunologist, Divya Pandey, who is an architect with a keen interest in sustainable habitats, and Shreelata Krishnan an HR consultant and an organic entrepreneur.
“The revenue comes from selling organic products. We are talking to a few investors to raise angel funds. We also sell products in Delhi, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad where we courier these products to stores that sell our products. On average, 10-12 customers come to the store everyday.”
Deepti says she wants to build a strong supply chain for organic farmers in India. “We are building an ecommerce platform that will go live in a month. In the next one year, we are planning to set up another store in Lucknow.” She also plans to sell the products to third-party mom and pop stores across different cities in India.