How does a group of tribal artisans making natural personal care products in faraway Dharmapuri find a customer base in Chennai, that too with nothing but the quality of their products to speak on their behalf — with no branding and zero advertising? Here’s where Farmer and Co comes into the picture. Started by Chennai-based Rekha Ramu and her husband V M Parthasarathy in 2017, the company is an aggregator for organic produce from across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and even Kashmir.
The couple, who were previously with Organic Farmers Market, started Farmer and Co to “explore other avenues of retailing and wholesale of organic products,” according to Rekha. Apart from setting up two organic stores — at Chetpet and Kotturpuram — in the city, the duo is selling organic groceries, fruits and vegetables, apart from products made by rural artisans through various other “models” as well.
For instance, the couple helped brand shampoos and herbal floor cleaning liquids by a Dharmapuri-based group. “We also support those who want to buy from us at a subsidised rate and sell in their locality,” says Rekha. “They need not even have a store set up; but can collate a list of products that people in their neighbourhood want, and sell it with a margin.”
People in areas that do not have many organic stores, can get together to create a combined shopping list, send it to Farmer and Co, and have it delivered by arranging their own transport. “We’ve had people in Rajakilpakkam and Manapakkam doing this,” explains Rekha. “More and more people are opting to buy this way.” Then, there’s the wholesale section, through which the company supplies to other organic stores in the city.
The idea, according to Rekha, is to sell organic farmers’ produce. They support the farmer by creating a bigger market for their produce. “Since we don’t restrict ourselves to only one mode of selling, we are able to sell more volume, and as a result, support more farmers,” adds Rekha.
Farmer and Co is also looking at supporting rural livelihoods, by providing a selling platform for rural businesses. “This may be palm-based artefacts and eco-friendly gift items made by rural youth or sathu maavu kanji powder made by women’s groups,” says Rekha. Every month, the couple also hosts a series of workshops and talks on art, health, and sustainable living.
Farmer and Co stores are located at: New no 3, Old no 2, Lamech Avenue, Spurtank Road, Chetpet and 29/23, Dhandayuthapani Nagar, First Street, Kotturpuram. For details, call 9840894786.
Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/society/chasing-the-natural/article28434485.ece