Ragi Kana turns 5, anniversary celebrations on May 14, 15

A santhe at Ragi Kana in Bengaluru.

A santhe at Ragi Kana in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Veena G (Photos with Bhagya)

Since five years, every Sunday, Bengalureans have had the opportunity of connecting with and buying directly from rural artisans and producers a wide array of items — ranging from khadi and handlooms to naturally grown groceries and vegetables. This space ‘Ragi Kana’ — is celebrating its fifth anniversary on May 14 and 15.

Two organisations — Gram Seva Sangh and Hulkul Muniswamappa Munivenkatamma Charitable Trust — came together to run the ‘Ragi Kana’. The trust runs a school for underprivileged children. The school has an 18-acre campus where ragi, paddy and other agricultural produce are grown and harvested. The threshing floor to harvest it on is called Kana in Kannada and hence, the santhe is named after it.

It all began when Prasanna, theatre artist and activist, Narendra, the Secretary of the trust, Abhilash, secretary of the Gram Sevak Sangh, Shyamala, Arum, Chokkalingam, Vikas and Gayathri — the core team members, started thinking about how there can be a profitable marketplace for skilled people in rural areas. The idea was to prevent them from migrating in search of better opportunities, while the extra challenge was to eliminate middlemen.

Initially, the volunteering team had to reach out to farmers, weavers, and artisans to convince them to sell here. But now, it is no longer a struggle to convince the sellers. It is a challenge to source the right product from the right people. “Since the most amount that consumers pay goes to the producers themselves, sellers are confident that they have a market for their products. Over time, we have had many organisations, many artisans who reach out to us to let them put up stalls,” said Mr. Prasanna.

Volunteers go out of their way to verify that the potential seller is genuinely in need of a market. “Producers from Belagavi or Sirsi cannot come to sell every week in the santhe. They send their products via bus, and we have salespersons who represent the weaver or farmer,” he added.

Another goal of the santhe was to connect the urban consumers to rural products. To attract the urban population, they have music, outdoor games for children and story-telling. Even discussions around the environment and urban planning are moderated to bring the urban population to understand the importance of rural empowerment. “The urban population is not only buying organic agricultural produce and handmade products, but are also taking part in the upliftment of rural people,” he said. 

Sustaining a cultural hub that provides a marketplace for rural sellers without any commercial motive has not been an easy task to pull off. “To create a market that allows the urban population to take part in helping out artisans is a big achievement in itself,” said Mr. Prasanna.

The volunteers of the santhe hope not only to sustain this model, but also ensure that it is replicated on similar lines in other parts of the state too.

The two-day anniversary celebrations will include activities, discussions, workshops, storytelling, poetry recital, cooking demonstrations and musical performances. This 2-day anniversary santhe features a wider variety of handmade garments, handicrafts, naturally grown groceries and vegetables and a mango festival too, said the organisers.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2022 7:38:58 pm |