A marketplace for farmers: ‘MAST Mokhada’
As tribal farmers in remote villages found it difficult to sustain themselves, unable to sell their produce, GPM has stepped in with an innovative store, 'MAST Mokhada', marketing their products and generating life sustaining income to struggling farming families. children.
Mokhada, located in the Palghar district of Maharashtra has approximately 150,000 people, 93% of whom are defined as “Scheduled Tribes” by the government. Scheduled Tribes are identified as indigenous tribal communities which historically are excluded from Indian society. One such tribe, the Katkari community, is considered one of the most vulnerable groups in India, living primarily off of the land and small scale farming.
In Mokhada, local farmers and artisans were finding it difficult to market their products. Farming families have scarce resources and limited access to water and even with these incredible challenges they want to farm their land and sell their produce. Additionally, the logistics and expense of transporting produce from remote villages to market sources thwart farmers' desire to use their land and sell their goods. Despite access to grants, farmers were struggling to sell their produce, wondering whether it was still lucrative to invest the little they have in agriculture if they could not sustain their families. In India, however, there is a deep respect for and understanding that the rural communities provide much of the agriculture for the nation.
After discussion with community members in Mokhada, GPM decided to open a store in which community members could support farmers and artisans, building up the local economy. At the MAST Mokhada (literally "Go Makhada") store located in a bustling intersection, travelers, passersby and community members are able to buy local produce, snacks and beverages such as ladoos, lassis and other treats. Customers not only support local farmers, but learn about Gabriel Project programs in the area as well. GPM acts as the intermediary between producers and consumers free of charge so the farmers receive full compensation. Additionally, the store provides the raw materials needed for the meals as part of our infant malnutrition Bal Balwaan program. The MAST Mokhada flagship store will raise awareness, promote rural development and help farmers market their products more sustainably.