At Daana, we work on three fundamental principles:
- Right to Healthy Food: As a consumer, each one of us deserves access to reliable and affordable sources of healthy food. Food that isn’t contaminated with toxic chemicals, is full of nutrients and is extremely flavourful and nourishing. Every meal at home should literally transport us to our grandmothers kitchen.
- Right to Livelihood: As a farmer, I deserve fair prices for the food I produce. Prices that account for all my physical labour, and the extreme risk that I take in pursuing agriculture day-in and day-out, in today’s world of climate change. My children deserve to go to good schools, and when their education is complete, they should find it worth their while to return to the family farm, and keep the community commitment to agriculture going.
- Right to sustainability: Every other life form that shares this world with us (and hence resources like land, water, air, food and habitat) deserves their fair share of life, with no threat to displacement, starvation or extinction. Every tree, bird, worm, or tadpole is an essential and integral part of the whole that makes up life on this world. We are part of that whole: in its destiny lies ours.
We deliver on the above by enabling market access to small and marginal organic farmers. We procure highly curated food products from traditional farmers (most of them have been farming organically for generations in many parts of India), and make them available to consumers.
The following is how we do it:
100% Organic: No artificial chemicals: pesticides, fertilisers, preservatives or GMO products have been used anywhere in the entire supply chain, right from the seed, all the way to your table. We are certified to NPOP (India) and USDA (American) requirements.
Single Origin: This means food comes from one single farming region and community to your kitchen. What you get in the supermarket is a commodity: aggregated, blended and faceless. At Daana, we provide you complete information about the farmers, the farm and its details, and bring much needed transparency on the source of your food. Check out videos of our farmers on our website, and get to know them. They are the real human beings that nourish us everyday. We hope that this effort is one small step in changing societal norms that put efficiency, scale, technology and cheap quality (hence low-cost) ahead of health, livelihoods, sustainability and justice.
Heirloom Seeds, Sustainable Farming: Daana farmers aren’t just organic (growing without synthetic chemicals). They are skilled at the ART of organic farming, using creative and time-tested methods to conserve water, preserve soil fertility, and enrich the biodiversity of their farms.
- Conserving Seeds: Our farmers select native, hardy varieties of crops to grow. These varieties yield very flavourful crops. Their drought and disease resistant nature makes them less vulnerable to pest attacks, and to times when water availability is less. This removes the stress on the farmer to intervene aggressively for pest attacks, or to be thrown into endless demands for water. These seeds are conserved and used for subsequent plantings. The entire community participates in a give and take of this treasure. No seeds are purchased from outside. This also reduces the burden on the farmer who instead would have to buy expensive, non-propagating hybrid varieties sold in the market by seed companies (eg: Bayer, Monsanto)
- Rain-Fed farms: For most of our farmers, as is the case with small and marginal farmers in India, their farms are mostly rain-fed. They receive rains during the monsoons, and they make do with this for the rest of the year. How do they do that? They mulch their farms extensively, and grow drought resistant varieties. Also soil which has been organically farmed, is full of humus and has great capacity to hold water, especially at the layer where the root tips of most plants lie. This gives them a distinct advantage over the chemically farmed option where one cannot grow food in the absence of irrigation water, which is a huge external dependence.
- Intercropping, crop rotation and Bio-diversity: When you aren’t in the pressure of growing high “yielding” monocrops that heavily depend on water, fertiliser and pesticide, a natural way of avoiding pest attacks is by intercropping your plants with other crops. Crop rotation helps replenish the soil with nutrients that has been absorbed by one set of plants. In such organic farms, there is a rich biodiversity (ie, an ecosystem of birds, insects, rodents and animals). Several beneficial microorganisms flourish that repel and control pests and other diseases. Presence of natural pollinators greats improves yield. The presence of a variety of other plants enhances the taste and nutrient profile of the crop as they share the same soil to grow.
Fair Trade: We make sure that our farmers are given fair prices for the food they produce. This isnt with any charitable intent. It simply is the only way that we can ensure the long-term viability of organic farming. Agriculture today is in a state of crisis, world over. Large scale automated agriculture is replacing skilled farmers who have intimate knowledge of their soils, and are highly knowledgeable and capable of producing healthy and sustainable food, in today’s state of looming climate change.
Read this UN report that explains further why the most reliable way to feed the world and fight climate change is small-scale organic farming.