Uttarakhand is a land abundant in scenic beauty, lush greenery, and smiling villagers. But what is amiss is a solid economic base and relief from the curse of unemployment. While youth migrating to cities searching for jobs, Surnam Singh Rawat changed this bleak scenario with his unique solution – pickles.
Surnam has been determined to reverse the migration patterns in his homeland for which he set-up Gramya Fresh, a small factory in 2005 in Pauri, Uttarakhand to produce local organic pickles, candies, and juices.
A veteran farmer, Rawat has accreditation in agriculture with 51 training certificates from the government. He wanted to make use of his vast knowledge of working with the variety of resources that were getting wasted in the rural Uttarakhand. There are plenty of raw materials available which were rotting away every year because of low consumption and lack of knowledge to utilize them.
Rawat is preparing unique and in-demand products in his factory from available local crops. The small blue factory of Gramya Fresh sits in the lap of nature, overlooking beautiful Himalayas and uses only organic ingredients to make fresh and delicious pickles. All of the ingredients are locally sourced and the factory tries to buy the ingredients from producers who are in more need of money (such as widows/ poor farmers).
People just need courage and motivation to start something in their homeland and revive the economy – He says
He received the nickname “Iron Man” from the locals because of his tremendous effort and dedication. He encourages local farmers to produce the resources he needs most. Initially, people thought it was a stupid decision as Rawat could have made more money doing the same thing elsewhere, but it is only now that they realise the effect Gramya Fresh has on their lives.
Attracting White House, World Bank
Rawat’s effort has also changed the perspective of youth of Pauri. He hopes to grow his business by expanding his product line and the number of farmers who are connected with him. “I want to build a guest cottage near the factory which will allow visitors to stay and understand the importance of building the local economy,” he says.
Gramya Fresh has already attracted many visitors, including a contingent of White House officials from the United States and others from the World Bank.