While Rajasthan is a land of kings, royalties, colors, rich culture, and heritage on one hand; it is also a cracked, sandy, and arid ground with water scarcity on the other. Beyond these uncontrollable problems, the state still dwells with gender disparity even when it comes to farming. Women undertake most of the laborious work in the fields while managing their families, yet they are unable to showcase their contribution. Now when there are so many gremlins thrown by society and nature itself, people can do two things: they can either grieve around, or they can take the opportunity to make a change.
Most successful business ideas today are those that try to solve the problems of people, provinces, and nations. Rapid Organic is one such transformational business idea of Aruna Joshi, started with an aim of empowering women farmers and distributing high-quality organic food to the State of Rajasthan. Aruna tells Women Entrepreneur India about the journey that changed many women’s life.
Take us through the early journey of your entrepreneurship. What motivated you to create a startup that specializes in organic farming?
Hailing from a small village in Rajasthan, I have always known the situation of agriculture in the state and the social stigmas women face. I have been very passionate about empowering women, and in the process, we tapped into the concept called Organic Farming. Although it was not my subject of expertise, I and my better half decided to take the leap and promote organic farming, especially through women farmers. Indeed it was the only way we could help local women farmers to stand on their feet while making some change in the agriculture sector of Rajasthan.
My passion to help the women farmers made my journey memorable, these ladies are working under veils and it is the time to break this tradition. I started with only 20 women and with time I was able to convince more than 300 farmers to work with us. The natural profile of the crops of this region was a big advantage to us. Moreover, we wanted to spread awareness about organic products, therefore, created an organization devoted to delivering organic food products; that is how Rapid Organic was ideated as an organic ingredients supplier.
Give us a brief overview of Rapid Organic. Highlight the company’s objectives.
As we (I and my husband) realized the potential of organic farming in the western part of Rajasthan, we grabbed the opportunity and introduced Rapid Organic in 2010. We are a bulk supplier of organic products like cereals, pulses, oilseed crops, medicinal plants and herbs, and superfoods. As told earlier, I always had a special place in my heart for female farmers. It is really a tough ask for them to put up for long hours in the fields and do the duties at home. However, they never had an opportunity to showcase their contribution. I was very well aware of the situation and it was a golden chance for me to bring forward their valuable efforts and recognize them. While we are offering good food to people, we are training women to realize the necessity of organic farming, its benefits, and how to implement these practices in a precise manner to get a better outcome.
We have arranged all types of primary bio inputs for farming and also executed practical sessions regarding the process to use them instead of using harmful chemical fertilizers. With a strong vision and desperation to promote organic farming, we successfully converted all of them into organic farming.
“Break the barriers of veils and move out, show your strength to the world, and do what moves you”
How big of a market opportunity do you foresee for organic farming in the Indian market? How do you intend to support women farmers through your initiatives?
Many studies prove the potential of organic farming. Especially after the pandemic strike, Indians have become more health aware and highly discerning about the food choices being made. There is a lot more effort being put into choosing the right kind of food. People are consulting nutritionists, and dieticians, and actively searching for credible information on the internet. As much as it’s true that food is medicine, it is also evident that all the ingredients around us are full of toxins and harmful chemicals. Though people are preferring organically produced ingredients, choosing a trustworthy brand is crucial. With immense love and care for your health, we have built Rapid Organic with transparency, trust, and authentic farming practice. As per one of the reports, the market for organic food products was about $200 million in 2018 and it reached $820 million in 2020. By 2026, it is expected to reach a value of about $2601 million. With that said, we have made Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) and Self Help Group (SHG) for female farmers to bring forward the Organic produce grown by them to a marketplace. Women farmers contribute about 70% of farming activities, Patriarchy.
How do you keep yourself well aligned with the periodic evolutions occurring within your respective field of work?
The organic food industry is very strictly defined and we have to ensure that we always meet the parameters. Therefore, extra effort is always needed. We have to be proactive in our approach so that our time and efforts are not wasted by factors like a harsh environment, lack of proper marketing, market rates, and fluctuations.
Aruna Joshi, Founder & Director, Rapid Organic
A mompreneur & agriculture enthusiast and Youtuber who is changing the lives of many women farmers in Rajasthan.