Farm-fresh from Kerala to the UAE, in just one day

Farm-fresh from Kerala to the UAE, in just one day

Dubai - The initiative began with 60-100 families two years ago.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Mon 22 Jan 2018, 8:02 PM

Brijesh Krishnan, a farming enthusiast based in Thrissur, harvested a fresh batch of 100 per cent organic pomelo fruit, commonly known in Kerala as "bumbli mass", on Friday. A natural citrus fruit native to South and Southeast Asia and similar in appearance to a large grapefruit, pomelo is hard to find in Dubai supermarkets.
The very next day after Brijesh harvested the fruit, Merry Kurian and her family of four residing in Sharjah, were enjoying a selection of ripe and delicious 'bumbli mass' and a selection of several other delicious fruits and vegetables. "I've been having these vegetables and fruits for the last two months. I don't miss out a single week and I've noticed a drastic change in the health of my kids and husband," Merry told Khaleej Times.
Thanks to Krishnan, his associate Praveen Kottavathil and seven to eight organic farming enthusiasts, around 100 families in Dubai and Sharjah enjoy farm-fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every week. Launched by Kottavathil, Naturebeatz is a community-run initiative supplying farm-fresh fruits and veggies grown using sustainable practices in Kerala.
The initiative began with 60-100 families two years ago and today, a fast-growing network of 600 families are part of the entirely-community run initiative. An average of 100 families get a total of 5.5-6 kgs of vegetables and fruits each - or a 'kit' - every week. Each kit is priced at Dh60. "Our aim is not to sell and make a profit; even in the future, we don't intend to ever retail these vegetables. It is to introduce more people to a natural, healthy, organic lifestyle," he said.
"Vegetables harvested in Kerala are delivered to homes in the UAE the very next day, completely removing the need for storage, fancy packaging or retailing facilities," added Kottavathil. "For example, this particular batch of sweet passion fruits, yams, and pineapples (pointing to a vegetable kit), were harvested and packed yesterday and we are giving it to families today," said Vijeesh Gopinathan, a volunteer at Naturebeatz.

From farm to the kitchen, in a matter of hours

Naturebeatz grows the fruits and veggies on a five-acre farm at Mala, Thrissur, Kerala, and also procure them from 1,500 other farmers in Kerala. "We've fixed a price for each commodity. For example, the price for a kilo of tomato is 20 Indian rupees. Even if the market rate falls to 3 Indian rupees, we still pay the farmer 20 rupees," said Kottavathil. The farmers don't use any kind of harmful pesticides and the land is made fertile using only natural fertilisers such as cow dung.
"We have two consignments coming in from Kerala every few days," said Kottavathil. 

Health benefits of organic veggies

 The Naturebeatz community insists that young children need to be given healthier options. "Children assume that good-looking fruits and vegetables in the market are good for health. But that is not always the case," said Kottavathil. Conventional farmers sometimes use harsh chemical pesticides and ionizing radiation to grow their produce, which could negatively affect growth.
Deepika Deepak, another resident who is part of the initiative, said: "Some of the veggies are not native to the states where I come from. But they're so nutritious and delicious. The only downside to this is that you can't select the vegetables."
Dr Rola Bashir, a general practitioner at Sunny's Clinic, also a part of the initiative said: "The health benefits of consuming food that is naturally produced and not stored for long periods of time are incredible."

What is in the kit?

Except for onion and garlic, the group supplies an entire myriad of fruits and veggies. The list includes purple yam, long yard beans, cucumber, aubergine, pumpkin, papaya, bitter gourd, snake gourd, tomatoes, pineapples, green chillies, jackfruit, bananas, potatoes, beetroots, ginger, and much more.

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