Jitendra Yadav comes from an agricultural family. That’s why he is passionate about offering safe, nutritious foods to consumers in a way that will increase profits for farmers.
Conventional farming practices require increasingly expensive inputs, like chemical fertilizers and pricey machinery. Jitendra’s mission is to make farming more affordable for farmers by moving them to organic farming and setting them up to be able to clean, process and package their products.
In 2017, Jitendra founded Aikya Organics, a seed-to-fork company that sells organic products that are grown, processed and packaged by small & marginal farmers and sold to urban families and organic brands.
Jitendra Yadav is a management graduate from IIM-Lucknow and B.Tech in Computer Science. He spent over three years working in the IT sector prior to joining IIM-Lucknow.
Aikya Organics is one of 11 agribusiness start-ups participating in Upaya’s 2018 Agribusiness Acceperator Program. The Upaya team traveled to Kanpur to visit Aikya Organics and learn more about the company’s mission and social impact.
Q: What problem is Aikya Organics trying to solve?
Use of pesticides and other conventional farming practices has led to an increase in input costs, making the farming economically unviable for the farmers. Also, the food is becoming unsafe to consume due to high content of chemicals in it. Most of the lifestyle diseases have a direct relation to the food that we are consuming. The organic food available in the market comes at a premium price which is affordable to only a small fraction of consumers. This puts us in a unique position to fill the gap by making farming economically viable for our farmers and offering safe and nutritious food at affordable prices.
Q: What inspired you to start your company?
The company emerged out of something existing. Shramik Bharti, a grassroots development organization based out of Kanpur, has been working with farmers for the last three years to move them to organic farming. First, we helped the farmers move away from chemical fertilizers and artificial inputs. Then we introduced affordable tools to help farmers improve their incomes.
To return the profits to the farmers, and to get best rate, there needs to be value addition to the products. We started by cleaning the food, and then we started packing the foods. The quality was ensured by having the farmers consume what they produced.
I have wanted to do something for the community especially around farming. My family comes from an agricultural background. The land isn’t good, so I wanted to do something with the land.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment with your company to date?
Having a network of 1,200 farmers who have taken up organic farming practices. We have been able to help improve their health and wealth by teaching them how to grow safer food that benefits them, sell it to consumers and then sell what is left over into the market.
Q: What has been your biggest learning so far?
The key learning is that farmers are willing to change their practices if it benefits, both monetary or non-monetary, their family members or themselves.
Q: What is your vision for your company?
We aim to grow Aikya by having more farmers enter into organic farming and bringing healthier food products to the market for consumers in tier 2/tier 3 cities in India.
Aikya Organics creates market linkages for women-led farmer producer organizations who are cultivating chemical-free food through zero-budget natural farming. They aim to create an interconnected society based on trust and integrity where the farmers receive fair income and the consumers are more conscious about the quality and seasonality of the food they consume.