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Tushar Shirke, Mandhar Village, Purandar Taluka, Maharashtra.

Tushar Dada hails from Mandhar village of Purandar taluka. He works with 250 organic farmers in the region and comes every week to Mumbai with fresh farm produce. Taru sources only jowar from his farmer group. During the rains, around June end every year, small-scale farmers in Mandhar disperse jowar seeds and it naturally grows in low fertile soil without any ploughing. Jowar desi seed is indigenous to his village and is climate-resilient, needs only 50 cm rainfall for growing annually.

Mandhar, Purandar has drought half the year, no running water and very few wells. By natural arrangement and remote location, their farming and living is natural and down to earth. The fields are mostly rain-fed. Those who have wells water sparsely.

We, at Taru Naturals, have facilitated natural farming courses and Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) organic certification, at the village level in Mandhar. Mom and I conducted multiple rounds of Sri Sri Natural training programs with the women's self-help group.

Setting up natural farming practices, and encouraging farmers to plant more fruit trees, village-level processing centers, and collection units, to aggregate farm produce, has helped create a market for organic produce for everyone collectively.

In Mumbai, at Taru Naturals warehouse, we freshly stone-grind our attas (Tushar Dada's Jowar), Made to order, fresh in our Chakki. Our attas are absolutely rich in fiber and completely unbleached, without preservatives. Quality is monitored.

We initially gave Tushar Dada space to market his farm produce in our Chembur Farmers Market. Slowly he increased his customers through whatsapp. One day he came up to me and handed me a Papaya with tears in his eyes.

This is what Tushar Dada said to me, "Madam, this papaya is the first fruit our tree has had in twelve years. My entire family in our village feels that this first fruit should only be eaten only by your family. Just the way you have held our hand and taken us through the journey, the papaya tree must have struggled so hard to give us fruit. The papaya tree's first fruit marks the start of our prosperity and we want you to have this special gift from us." I teared up after listening to Tushar Dada. For us, this is our gift, LOVE.

Today we continue to buy only jowar millet from him. However, we are so proud of his journey. When Tushar Dada started coming to Mumbai, he had only 10 customers. After handholding him for one year, he has been able to market his farm produce to more than 1000 customers in Mumbai. Truly beautiful.

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