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Indian consultant helps growers through innovation

When Parvathi Menon launched her own consulting firm, Innovation Alchemy, in 2009 in India, she found a fertile market of social enterprises, large NGOs, and government agencies seeking insights on social innovation, sustainability, supply chain management and advice on how to scale up their solutions for the base of the pyramid. Over the next several years, Innovation Alchemy built a network of 2,000 social enterprises around the world and directly assisted 60 social enterprises to grow. Having worked in management consulting, media and as a leader of the World Bank’s Development Marketplace programs in India, Ms. Menon had acquired a deep knowledge of the developmental challenges facing India.

In 2014 the company decided that the best way to test its consulting hypotheses was to experiment as a social enterprise itself. To do so, Innovation Alchemy launched Fresh Harvest Pvt. Ltd. According to Menon, “We chose the agriculture sector for the first venture expansion, given the need and opportunity for innovation & facilitation in this sector, in the Indian context”.

The Fresh Harvest farm, located outside Bangalore, India, uses nearly 10 acres of land to grow everything from lemons, beetroot, carrot, chilies, and greens to Indian vegetables like murungakkai and nellikai. The team is also harvesting flowers for the domestic Indian market. Flowers provide small farmers with reliable cash flow and local market access everywhere in India, due to their critical role in Hindu religious ceremonies.

Not satisfied to simply manage a small, sustainable farming operation, Fresh Harvest has invested in new technologies like precision farming, low-energy greenhouses, rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation to reduce costs and improve sustainability.  They have added food processing units to prepare food more efficiently for delivery to market. In the last year alone, Fresh Harvest has delivered 35 tons of vegetables to market – more than twice the amount delivered by farms of similar size in the region.

Read more at Forbes

Publication date: 3/6/2017



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