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Alok Kumar's Innovative Approach is Giving Bihar's Mangoes New Ways of Commercialization via Apna Khet Foundation

The Apna Khet Foundation, involving nearly 85 dedicated farmers, is striving to bring Bihar’s exquisite mangoes to 28 states across India and beyond.

Shreetu Singh
Alok Kumar's Innovative Approach is Giving Bihar's Mangoes New Ways of Commercialization via Apna Khet Foundation
Alok Kumar's Innovative Approach is Giving Bihar's Mangoes New Ways of Commercialization via Apna Khet Foundation

Sitamarhi, a district in Bihar, is renowned for its sweet and high-quality mangoes, including varieties like Malda, Jardalu, Safeda, and Bambaiya. Despite their exceptional taste and health benefits, these mangoes were largely unknown outside the state till recently. Therefore, Alok Kumar, a farmer from Bathnaha village, set out to change that.

During the 2020 COVID-imposed lockdown, Alok witnessed a significant drop in mango sales due to transportation issues. This challenge sparked his innovative spirit. Once while browsing social media, he came up with the idea of selling mangoes online. This led to the creation of "Apna Khet," a website dedicated to selling various mango varieties.

Soon, he included other farmers facing similar challenges on the website. In 2021, he collaborated with 25 farmers and managed to sell mangoes in 18 states. By 2024, the number of participating farmers had grown to 85. Next, they plan to expand their reach to 28 states. 

"When I started selling mangoes through the online platform, I received an encouraging response from Bihari migrants living in other states," Alok says. "This inspired me to ensure a proper procedure for selling our products. To maintain high quality, we adopted bagging, i,e. where bags are placed on mangoes to prevent direct contact with crop protectants. Such a practice significantly reduces the chances of chemical residue.”

He continues, “Over time, we have been able to garner recognition from the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA). We secured a project that provided 250 bags to each participating farmer. I conducted three-stage training sessions and distributed the bags. The farmers, recognizing the benefits, even purchased additional bags on their own. Our goal is to continue to expand our reach, ensuring that these delicious mangoes can be enjoyed by people across the country."

Currently, Apna Khet's mangoes are primarily sold in southern India, with a strong focus on reaching Bihari communities. There is high demand in districts like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, and Chennai. “The community in Kanchipuram has also shown significant interest in our mangoes. Additionally, they are considering expanding sales to the Andaman Islands due to numerous requests. Besides, they are successfully selling our mangoes in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, ensuring that our high-quality fruits reach a wider audience,” he says. 

Alok further mentioned that upon receiving registration from APEDA, he discovered that Bihar's mango varieties were not individually listed, all being sold under the generic name "Langda." Determined to provide proper recognition to these unique varieties, Alok wrote a letter to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and the Director of Horticulture. He requested that at least four varieties—Malda, Jardalu, Jarda, and Bambaiya—be given distinct codes. This, he believes, will help these exceptional mangoes gain the recognition they deserve in the international market.

Alok cultivates these mangoes on a 15-acre farm, while his co-farmers manage an average of 3-4 acres each. Every year, Alok ships 1,000-2,000 boxes of mangoes to customers, with an additional 1,200-1,500 boxes sold directly from their doorsteps. His mangoes have become a popular choice for gifting, thanks to their superior quality. Through Alok's innovative approach, farmers who previously sold mangoes at Rs 40 per kg can now sell them for Rs 60-80 per kg. This significant increase in earnings has benefited the farming community, demonstrating the positive impact of Alok's efforts.

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