Sangham Organics is an alternative marketplace fully owned and run by the women farmers of Deccan Development Society. The initiative was started in 1999, at a time when development discourse had led agricultural markets towards the era of economic liberalisation. Streamlined production made monoculture a norm, while disrupting the soil’s ecosystem. Food miles saw a rise and so did the ecological distress, as a consequence. Non participatory markets that are blind to farming values, and centralized in decision making can only be disempowering, contributing little to true development. Sangham Organics is a community led market of 3000+ enterprising women farmers, who cultivate millets, pulses, oilseeds, and make them accessible in a least processed form. Products are grown in an ecological way, that’s least detrimental to not just the grain but also to the soil.
There seems to be a moral assurance attached to the giant tide of organic produce, for the customers. But except that the production is organic and certified, there is no apparent difference between this and other food supermarkets. Their packing, their environs, their unconcern for food miles – everything is classically the same.With Sangham Organics, It is not just the products that are free of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and preservatives. To ensure the quality of grain, crop diversity is followed on the farms which are rainfed. Crop diversity is fundamental to agriculture and is the most biodiverse approach.
Sangham organics operates on a democratic system, comprising women members from Sanghams who execute functions and take collective decisions on the price for their produce. The supply chain involves procurement of raw materials directly from member farmers and open market sources, processing at the centralized facility in Pastapur. Packaging and marketing of products is handled by Sangham Shop. There are no other intermediaries in the chain. The set up is monitored by a market committee assisted by a convener. Biodiverse millet cultivation, women empowerment and nutrition are central to Sangham Organics, which celebrates farming, diversity and independence in its spirit.