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Ladakhi women’s startup supplies organic products throughout India

Last Updated on March 21, 2021 at 2:30 pm

Rigzin Angmo and her three friends namely Rigzin Yangdol, Padma Angmo and Padma Angmo founded a Leh-based startup “Kangla-Nyishar” in 2019. The term means sunflower in Ladakhi. They make artisanal food with locally-sourced organic produce benefiting small growers, producers and the local economy.

Rigzin Angmo collects raw materials for their products from local farmers and then make products like three varieties of pesto (walnut, apricot and sun-dried tomato) and buckwheat tea.

They all first met when they were participants in the Naropa Fellowship programme. It is a one-year course to help people who are working to create “an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and growth” while avoiding damage to the heritage of Ladakh and larger Himalayan region. All of them graduated in August 2019. As the programme ends, students have to think about an idea to set up a business venture.

Angmo remembers that they paid visit to various parts of Ladakh like Hanu and Markha Valley They also met farmers in their journey and discussed their endangered food culture and learnt their recipes. They also noted names of local plants. When they returned to Leh, they took help of internet and visited experts at research institutes like the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) to learn the English names for these locally-found plants and crops. They were surprised to find that many of these plants are considered premium products outside India. For instance, westerns consider buckwheat a superfood.

When they were researching, some people from Mumbai even asked them to supply cloudberries to them. But they were not interested in supplying local raw produce outside. They decided to do make products with help of locally-found raw produce. They discussed potential products in their group and prepared a list.

Rigzin Angmo told The Better India that their focus was on buckwheat, barley and sea-buckthorn tea in the starting as they were easier to prepare. They also worked to find out ways in which pesto can be preserved without the use of harmful chemical preservatives. They launched buckwheat tea and three different varieties of pesto—walnut, sun-dried tomato and apricot at the starting of last year. They also presented these products at the three-day National Organic Festival in February 2020 in New Delhi. They were awarded a prize for the most unique products in the event.

Angmo said that they sell their products to retail stores in Leh. They are planning to utilize schemes of the Ladakh Union Territory administration for small businesses and can even apply for a loan if need arise. They handmake jars of pesto weighing 200gm each and buckwheat tea packets weighing 100gm each as of now. They have priced each 200gm jar for Rs 250 and one 100gm packet of buckwheat tea at Rs 100.

Courtesy: The Better India