Farmers’ friend

BENGALURU: Kokum, or Garcinia indica, and its twin sister Garcinia Cambogia are sought-after ingredients for weight loss. A known source of HCA, or hydroxycitric acid, it has huge demand across the globe. But what is not widely known is that it is available in abundance in the Western Ghats.
In 2013, Srikrishna Lakshminarayana Hegde (28), a native of Sirsi, after visiting a few metro cities, was surprised to know about the demand for Kokum. Belonging to a farmer’s family, Hegde had seen how farmers in his own village were not ready to grow Kokum because there was no demand. He then decided to provide a platform through ‘ConnectFarmer’ to balance the supply chain.

Speaking about his venture, Hegde says, “ConnectFarmer is an effort to economically empower small farmers in India. There is a lack of organised market facility for the processed farm products and unconventional crops in India. There has been no considerable effort to improve the market opportunity for the processed farm products. These products are the way to earn a stable and extra income for the farmers if provided a good market opportunity.” ConnectFarmer fills this gap.

“In India, Kokum is an ingredient in traditional dishes. Butter extracted from Kokum seeds is a very good medicine for dry skin. Also, this is the only butter which remains in solid state even at room temperature. When I found out that there was a huge demand, I thought that by giving a modern touch to the traditional fruit, I can help farmers sell their produce without any interference from middlemen,” says Hegde.

Honey and Kokum are the most sought-after products on the website

Hegde was completing articleship for CA at that time. Alongside, he started researching about improving the financial condition of the farmers in his village. Two years later, after attending many events hosted by farmers like Krishi Melas, and after talking to hundreds of farmers, he decided to start a co-operative in 2015. “It wasn’t even registered. It was just an informal gathering to address the woes of farmers. But after seeing their enthusiasm I wanted to make it big and that’s how ConnectFarmer was born,” he says.
“We started off with making Kokum juice – a value-added product and started selling it online. The response was good. When the word spread across the villages, I found out that there are many such value-adding produce like jackfruits, squash, honey, fruit juice, areca nuts and more. But the farmers had no idea how to sell it. What started as a blog, later took shape as an online platform, owing to huge demand,” he says.

Initially, it wasn’t a cakewalk for Hegde. He and three of his friends, a team of four core committee members, had raised funds for the website from their own pockets. They met farmers individually and briefed them about the market value of a few products, importance of marketing, and assured them good returns, provided they give a good finishing to the product. They visited local markets and bought plastic containers and gunny bags to teach farmers  the importance of packaging the product to make it look ‘sellable’. When the product is market-ready, they put it on the website to sell.
Earlier, farmers would struggle to sell their products outside the district.
Today, with ConnectFarmer, their products are being sold across the country for a good price. This is motivating other farmers to join hands with ConnectFarmer. They courier the products through India Post, which is hassle-free.

Today, they are a network of about 10,000 farmers, with around 300 producing and selling agricultural products on the platform. With Digital India slowly making its way to villages, Hegde hopes that the numbers will go up in the coming years. Except for a small processing fee, the entire money of the product is given to the farmers.
Some of the most-sought-after products include Kokum products, raw honey, black rice, areca leaf caps and fruit squash.

Need KMF-like model
Citing the KMF model, where government takes care of everything — from proving fodder and medicines for cows to packaging the milk and distributing it to people – Hegde says a similar model for farm products is needed. “No matter which crop a farmer grows, he is always under loss and in debt. And if you look at the demand, it is always high. So where is the money going? To middlemen. Eliminating them can help farmers to a great extent. That’s why we need a KMF-like model too sell agriculture produce. In KMF, they even fix the price. So nobody is under loss,” he says.

From farmers to retailers
For the last six months, Hegde is working on selling produce directly to retailers. This will help farmers make more money as retailers usually purchase in bulk, he says.

First product sold
The first online order, he says, came from Bengaluru,
just a few days after the website was launched. “It was for a Kokum syrup,” Hegde says.

Scholarship from Germany
Recognising ConnectFarmer, Do School, a social innovation school in Berlin, Germany offered him a scholarship worth B1 lakh. “Foreigners have recognised the website but here, there is no support from the government for this farmer-friendly initiative,”he rues.

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The Greatness of Papaya – Healthy and Great Tasting

Papaya is a great tasting fruit that is common around the world but not so much in North America. It’s a shame because the taste and texture of Papaya is great but the health benefits are also fantastic for all of us.

Papaya Vitamins and Antioxidants

A serving of Papaya has 14% of our daily requirement of Folate (Vitamin B9)and some other B vitamins, as well as 11% of our Potassium.

Papayas also contain healthy antioxidants called carotenoids that are better absorbed than other sources into our body. They are especially high in a type of carotenoid called lycopene. Lycopene is shown to be good for our eyes, bones, brain, and a healthy heart.

Benefits of Papaya

Cancer Help – When we talk about gut health, Papayas Lyocpene has been shown to reduce cancer cells in the stomach as well as help heal from cancer treatments.

Eye Health – There are two things in the Papaya that help eyes. Lycopene of course as stated earlier but also Zeaxanthin which has been shown to reduce macular degeneration and protecting the eyes

Tooth Aches – If you can find the root of a papaya plant you can make a  make a paste and massage it on your teeth and gums for few minutes it will stop that sharp pain. Inner bark of a papaya can also be used as an alternative to roots.

Weight Loss – I have found a Papaya based diet that involves even the eating of the seeds to help to detoxify and lose weight – not sure how well this works as I have not tried it myself at all

Bone Health – The Vitamin K in Papaya is great for bone health and helps with Calcium absorption which is critical for our bones staying strong as we age.

Nice Shiny Hair – You have probably seen Papaya based shampoo before and that is because not only does it smell great but also the Vitamin A in it is a nutrient required for sebum production in the scalp, which keeps hair moisturized

Digestion – There is an enzyme in Papayas called papain that aids digestion. Often when people want to improve their digestion they will take some kind of digestive enzymes, however these are built right into this fruit

Skin care – This is a bit different. When you rub Papaya on a burn the papain in it will help to heal the burn. Some hospitals have even found this enzyme helpful for bedsores and other skin irritations.

Papaya Recipes

I found this great tasting Papaya recipe on YouTube for a Thai Papaya salad

Also there is also a lot of other ways to prepare papayas. Here are a bunch of Papaya recipes at the Food Network


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Handy Weight Loss Supplements and Herbs for Delightful Results

If you want to drop those extra pounds that always make you feel uncomfortable, there are umpteen ways to try now. While you may be tempted to go for “quick fixes” and easy solutions, you need to be thoughtful and knowledgeable about what approach you take towards weight loss. Some methods may be rewarding, whereas others may end up harming you.

If you think of supplements and herbal remedies, you may find many mixed reviews. When it comes to alternative medicines, some are proven to be effective, whereas others have no scientific backing at all. That is why you should always discuss with your physician before you try anything.

FDA has cracked down the facts about some traditional weight loss supplements. There are many dietary supplements, which are primarily treated as food supplements to promote weight loss. Let’s further discuss a few such supplements that can help you lose weight effectively.

  • Chitosan

It is a sugar variant, which is derived from the hard outer shell of crabs, shrimp, and lobsters. Some studies have shown that Chitosan is effective in blocking fat from getting absorbed by the body in the form of cholesterol.

Even though the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that this supplement is effective in weight loss, no concrete proof has yet been presented. Chitosan does not cause long-term side effects, but some people reported upset stomach and constipation.

  • Garcinia Cambogia and Apple Cider Vinegar

You can see many mixed Garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar reviews online. Garcinia cambogia is basically a tropical fruit, which is also called Malabar tamarind. It is said to have effects in blocking the body’s ability to make fat and curb appetite. It also keeps the sugar and cholesterol levels in check.

Apple cider vinegar helps in decreasing obesity and helps the body to regulate metabolism and maintain fitness. In many cases, reduction of waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio is observed with regular use of apple cider vinegar.

  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

It is another popular supplement that contains the fatty acid known as linoleic acid. It is proven to have positive effects in curbing the body fat and help individuals feel full. It is said that consumption of about 1.8 to 6.8 grams of CLA a day may strengthen muscles and reduce body fat.

  • Glucomannan

This supplement is made from konjac plant. Like any dietary fiber, Glucomannan also helps you lose weight by effectively blocking fat absorption in the body. You can find Glucomannan in the form of capsule or powder. It also to be noted that Glucomannan may make it hard to absorb other medications. So, you need to consume other medicine either an hour before or four hours after taking Glucomannan.

Many other natural supplements are effective in weight loss such as green tea extract, green coffee extract, Guar Gum, Hoodia, 7-Keto-DHEA, Ephedra. However, always ensure that you discuss it in detail with your healthcare provider before trying out any of these.

Kenny Weiss is a naturopathy expert and dietitian who works for a leading alternative health care practice in the United States. After carrying out several studies, he posted many Garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar reviews online.

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