The coming together of over 2,000 alphonso mango farmers from the Konkan region under one common brand — Ekyaam — could prove to be a game changer in marketing alphonso mangoes globally.
A few months ago, alphonso mango farmers from across the Konkan region partnered with Innoterra, a Swiss-Indian food and tech platform company, to launch their brand, Ekyaam. Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Ekam’ which means ‘one’ and representing unity, Ekyaam represents both the status of alphonso as ‘the one’ — ‘ek aam’ in Hindi—or premier mango variety as well as the unity of the farmers in marketing alphonso globally.
More than 2,000 alphonso farmers in the Konkan region have collaborated to provide consumers with the finest mangoes under brand Ekyaam. Fruits sold under the brand are being harvested from highly curated farms and are handled and ripened scientifically using FSSAI-approved methods.
Each fruit is scanned individually before packaging to ensure that consumers get the best possible quality. Interestingly, Ekyaam offers 100 percent traceability — each fruit is marked with a unique QR code which allows customers to trace the fruit back to the originating farm.
Initially, Ekyaam’s products are being retailed across major cities in India, starting with Mumbai, Delhi-NCR and Kolkata, and across multiple pack sizes. Efforts are also underway for a pilot launch in premium international markets, starting with mainland Europe.
Innoterra, the company which brought the farmers together, focusses on “transforming the economics of smallholder agriculture and ensuring the supply of healthy food to the world”. The company provides high-tech and human-touch services to significantly increase the net income of its farming partners and drive the transition towards more regenerative farming practices. Its open-architecture platform gives farmers optimal access to input and output marketplaces and systematically enhances their farming and commercial capabilities through advisory and customised learning programmes. Innoterra also provides a range of leading-edge software solutions for farm produce aggregators, farmer organisations, distributors, and retailers.
The Ekyaam initiative is expected to help the alphonso farmers market their product more effectively. “This is a historic partnership involving the alphonso farmer base across the entire Konkan region. Cooperatives and FPOs from Ratnagiri, Devgad, Pawas, Vengurla, Kelshi and other regions are collaborating with Innoterra in this initiative. This brand launch is an important milestone to help farmers realise the best possible value of their fruit,” says Mansoor Kazi, board member of Pawas Cooperative.
“This partnership with the alphonso farmer community is an important demonstration of the power and promise of the Innoterra Ag-tech Platform,” adds Pascal Foehn, Group COO and Co-Head, Platform at Innoterra, “The brand Ekyaam has been developed with a contemporary feel, and intends to showcase the Indian farmer’s ability to deliver premium products to a global audience. Together with the farmers, we will ensure that consumers all over India and globally are able to experience the taste of genuine, high-quality alphonso.”
Mukesh Khandelwal, Chief Innovation Officer of Innoterra and the force behind the Ekyaam project, outlines the vision for Ekyaam: “Ekyaam aims to unite the farmers of the alphonso mango under the umbrella of a single company and brand, and through this umbrella ensure the global marketing, sales and distribution of genuine, fully traceable alphonso mango.” In an exclusive interview with Traveldine, Khandelwal revealed more details about the Ekyaam programme and how it all came about.
How did the Ekyaam partnership come about?
We believe the alphonso is a special fruit whose market potential is under-exploited, because the fruit is sold as a commodity through the traditional marketing channels. We also started with the conviction that farmers, who have the largest stake in the marketing success of the fruit, needed to be in charge of its marketing and global distribution.
To give effect to this hypothesis, we initiated discussions with the leading farmer cooperatives for the Konkan alphonso, and proposed the establishment of a single farmer-owned company and brand for the national and global marketing of alphonso, with Innoterra providing the required support to farmers in terms of branding, marketing and distribution. This led to the conceptualisation of the Ekyaam brand.
How will branding alphonso mangoes under the ‘Ekyaam’ brand help the farmers?
The Ekyaam branding will enable farmers to develop the national and international markets for alphonso more effectively than has been possible under the current marketing channel available to farmers. This will increase farmers’ share of the profits.
What were some of the challenges faced on the journey to get all the farmers together?
Traditionally, mango farmers in the Konkan region have stayed away from collectivisation. They had the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, but no clear way of showcasing authenticity of alphonso mangoes and commanding the commensurate price. With fully traceable products under the Ekyaam brand, the farmers have addressed the challenges successfully.
Will the brand be scaled up further?
Ekyaam is a brand of the Konkan farmer, and will be extended to include processed mango products (such as alphonso pulp and dried alphonso jelly or aam papad), Konkan cashews, Konkan pineapples, etc. The brand is being promoted nationally by Innoterra and via strategic marketing and sales partnerships such as our launch on the Cred platform.
Are there plans to take the brand overseas?
Yes. Brand Ekyaam will be promoted in all premium fruits/foods markets worldwide, starting with Europe and the Middle East. We are planning to initiate pilot shipments into the Middle East already in the current season.