Raipur, 30 May-2014, TNN: A farmer from Chhattisgarh’s tribal Bastar is all set to venture into African nation Ethiopia for taking up organic herbal farming for an Rs 2,000 crore project funded by a UAE based company.
Rajaram Tripathi, an amiable former banker based in Kondagaon, currently runs a cooperative that grows medicinal herbs and employs over 300 tribal women in Bastar region. “We will begin plantation initially on 10,000 acres of land by September-October this year and gradually spread it to 10,000 hectares acquired on long term lease near Awassa, a town located about 110km from capital Addis Ababa,” he said.
Rajaram Tripathi said his Ma Danteshwari Herbal Group has signed a MoU with UAE based Lootah Group of Companies to start organic farming of indigenous herbs, specially focused on endangered species. “Our team has identified 28 herbs that could be cultivated and marked globally,” he added.
A team from Ma Danteshwari group, named after tribal Bastar’s famous Goddess Devi Danteshwari, will take care of master management through its expertise, technology transfer for organic farming, plants, saplings and other materials, employing local people from Ethiopia. The UAE based group, which already has coffee plantations in the region, would provide marketing support for the venture besides funding it.
Tripathi said they would cultivate high value plants, including several herbs of aromatic and medicinal values. Primary processing of the products would be carried out at Awassa.
“We have found that the climatic conditions and land fertility in Ethiopia are conducive. In India, it’s difficult to get such a vast tract of land for any project, including for farming, as land has always been an issue linked with sentiments,” Tripathi said.
Quitting his job as a rural bank officer in 2001, Tripathi took up herbal farming on more than 1,000 acres of land in Kondagaon and later moved on to focus on organic herbal farming.
A recipient of the prestigious Earth Hero Award 2012, instituted by Royal Bank of Scotland for biological diversity, Tripathi said organic fertilizers made of farm waste, including leaves and cow dung are used in his farming. Ma Danteshwari herbal group, comprising tribal families, has an herbal food supplement production unit and markets its produce with the help of Central Herbal Agro Marketing Federation of India.