Our work in Araku represents our vision of working towards the creation of communities free of hunger and malnutrition, improved health conditions for all, economic empowerment of farmers, and a diverse and healthy ecosystem.
From educating girls, to protecting mothers, to working with farmer families, Naandi has been in Araku since 1999 with one key vision - eradicating poverty. The first was a concerted effort to ensure all girls in the Araku region are in school. Simultaneously a safe motherhood programme was implemented with the help of a healthcare non-profit, which saw a steep reduction in the maternal mortality rates in the region.
Since then, for over 2 decades, Naandi has been working in Araku with tribal farmers to grow arabica coffee sustainably. The idea has been to combine the restoration of the ecology, with the direct returns from a global market, thereby eliminating middlemen who have been profiting off the farmer’s dependency. Under seemingly impossible terms of engagement with an impoverished community and within a conflict zone with an anti-government militia, Naandi brought forth a world-recognized & award-winning brand – ARAKU COFFEE.
The creation of a globally acclaimed retail brand called ARAKU Coffee required a shared value framework that allowed farmers to reap the benefits of the value addition obtained by grading, processing, roasting, packaging, and retailing in niche global markets.
Araku Coffee was launched in Paris in 2017, and won the prestigious Prix Epicures Award for Best Coffee Pod in 2018. In response to a growing demand to bring Araku to Indian consumers, Araku Coffee made its retail launch in India in 2019, followed by the opening of flagship Araku Cafe in Bengaluru.
While the coffee and planting programme helped farmers create a widened income portfolio, the youth have now been united through sport with annual volleyball tournaments. The long term impact of these interventions is already evident. Now being paid three times as much for their coffee, these families have broken out of the intergenerational cycle of poverty. The programme also created SAMTFMACS (Small and Marginal Tribal Farmers’ Mutually Aided Cooperative Society), the world’s largest federated organic and fair trade certified coffee cooperative, with 19,000 farmer families as of 2020. In Araku, we have successfully demonstrated a chain of food production and consumption from soil to the consumer that works seamlessly in harmony with each other. In the coming years, we hope to not just see the entire farming communities in Araku come out of poverty but also have a per capita income that is 2-4 times that of the national average.
In addition to growing coffee, we have been working on a forest restoration project with partners from India & France. We have been successful in planting over 30 million trees in the region of 21 different varieties and have cumulatively restored over 40000 hectares of forestland.
A decade of integrated work with men, women, youth, boys and girls have ensured the adivasi communities are now charting a new model of development. We call it the Araku way, a way out of poverty, and the way for good.
This ‘Araku Way’ is now internationally recognised by New York based Rockefeller Foundation. In August 2020, Naandi’s vision ‘Arakunomics’ was recognised as a top global Visionary for the Food Vision 2050 prize. Inspired by the learnings of over two decades of engagement with the farmers, Arakunomics pays tribute to the tribal farmers of Araku.