Having been raised in an isolated Himalayan village of the Kumaon region, I saw first hand the need to establish a brand that would support dispersed rural communities to safeguard traditional practices and ancestral seed banks under threat from generic, commodity intensive, industrialised methods, agricultural toxins, monocultures and chemically treated hybrids. I arrived at this insight after returning from years working abroad in business management. I had returned as my personal life at that time was in crisis. This period of suffering and spiritual upheaval sensitised me to the living conditions of the local villagers, to their incessant conflicts and ordeals. After several transformative encounters, both human and divine, I found myself entering upon a path of service to others, to those most vulnerable, those who bear the brunt of life’s petty injustices and tyrannies. My own existential pain had been transmuted into a sense of responsibility for the broader community.
Peasant farmers have to contend with disheartening competition both from invasive plant species (typically pine from the British occupation), and an accelerated influx of monkeys displaced from urban centres, aggravated by the relentless predations of wild boar. Corporate governance also puts further pressure on self-subsistent communities via mismanaged and poorly conceived aid programmes. My hope is to conserve those precious and singular resources indigenous to the Himalayan region by creating a niche market for exceptional foodstuffs in a manner that protects the farmer’s interests. The Himalaya has become a catch word amongst health pundits and is often dishonestly marketed by companies offering mouth service to noble initiatives, as the produce itself meets cursory organic standards whilst actually being cultivated in the accessible plains, from which the much touted, remote hill villages, receive no real benefit.