Aryan Kaistha, a 16-year-old, class XII student living in a village called Naggar just 20km from Manali, started Pahaadi Organics in May 2021.
“I was inspired by such similar ventures promoting healthy organic food of the hills and decided to start one myself during the COVID 19 lockdown of 2021. My goal was to help the small traditional farmers as well as to provide chemical-free and healthy food to our customers from cities where such products are rarely available. So I decided to buy my produce from villages and small farmers to help them out during the lockdown since they didn’t have much income during that time”, says the young entrepreneur.
I found many farmers who grew things like rajma and red rice using traditional methods without any chemicals, instead using organic fertilizers like cowdung and compost and I decided to start with that. I also found a very rare type of honey here which was collected from traditional Himalayan beehives. They are of 2 types, one is a hollowed out log and the second is a box attached to the wall of the house. This honey is really dense and tasted like nothing I’ve ever had before. My customers loved it too.
Soon, I added himalayan ghee for which demand was quite high. Our ghee comes from Himalayan cows which are kept in traditional himachali households for cowdung to use as fertilizer and milk, from which ghee is made using traditional methods. We don’t buy any of our produce from farms but instead, we go house to house looking for it. For example our ghee is collected in little quantities from local villagers who keep some cows at home for personal needs and to sell the surplus.
Currently, he is handling all of it himself with some help from his dad, who helps in finding the produce in villages.
The main challenge, in the beginning, was to get my first customers but after that, as the brand grew, it became easier.
Slowly, I started distributing some of my products in shops around my place and we got quite good feedback from there as well. Now I am also planning to add different kinds of local nuts and dry fruits for sale as well.
This year I also tried to sell some organic fruits like persimmons and some apples which went quite good! Although people didn’t know much about persimmons and they are not available in states other than Himachal and Uttarakhand and they were trying them for the first time. They absolutely loved them! “So for next year I can expect to get more orders as people tasted them and know what they are already”, says the bullish young kid. Next year I am also planning to introduce other fresh fruits like plums, pears and apricots.
What’s more, this young chap has also created the website on his own by learning it online. And his future plan is to expand his business to benefit as many farmers and customers as possible.