The sisters Kushika and Kanika Sharma, had promising careers, then what imbibed them to quit the comforts and luxury of regular day jobs and get into agro-tourism?
Having grown up in the serene hill station Nainital, the organic sisters, had their father play a huge role in teaching them the value of nature. Being the feminist dad, he always encouraged them that there’s nothing in this world that a boy can do that a girl can’t. Their connection to nature is the real inspiration behind starting-up the concept Dyo – The Organic Village Resort, an Agro Tourism prototype.
SheThePeople.TV caught up with Kushika Sharma to know more about what led them to kick-start their entrepreneurial venture and established a farmstay.
How Dyo – The Organic Village Resort started up?
Our dad always wanted to build an organic farm. So, we used our ancestral land and splashed an organic twist on it. Understanding that farming is a very important part of our economy, we measured, the idea of bringing the hospitality industry and organic farm together to give a boost to another bigger concept — promoting Agro tourism — and make farming easier. Thus, we launched Dyo in Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand.
Agro-tourism is all about giving the Guests an organic but leisure experience.
We provide a service that lets them try organic farming at our property. They can pick their own veggies and try it for a meal. Those who are uninitiated to farming also feel close to nature. We have a vast variety of fruits and vegetables, and a menu that never disappoints. Guests can enjoy luxury rooms with the modern amenities.
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The idea was to utilise the land as we noticed a lot of hill migration. Despite the state doing well in tourism, there’s a gap in utilising both the assets. So alongside a new idea, we focused on bringing opportunities for the locals in uplifting jobs. We engage school dropouts and train them to work here.
By providing them the opportunity to learn new skills and also a job, we have seen a big downward flow in youth migration.
Starting up an Organic farm and working in the villages with farmers, was it inspired from any personal space?
We never forgot our roots. Doing something meaningful for the society was, and always will be our main aim in life. Our father’s passion for nature and his village also his tireless work for the betterment of farmers/villagers of Uttarakhand made us more comfortable with them.
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As social entrepreneurs in organic farming, what market gap/s are you trying to address through this enterprise?
To utilise natural and organic farming with high-end hospitality which will benefit both sectors. We want people from different backgrounds who have a minimum interface with roots and farms to experience the beauty of hills and hard work of the farmers.
At present, we sisters head different departments. Also, we have four women working in the farms. Plus, we utilise skills, of village girls in various departments.
What has been your most touching or amazing moment you’ve experienced in the business?
We were amazed to see many people don’t know how different vegetables are grown. So, we give them this experience to farm and learn about something that is a very important part of our economy.
Whoever has visited the resort has extended their stay. They are in love with the place and the organic activity. I think that is one achievement.
Is the demand growing?
Today, people are getting more and more aware of health and the harmful effects of chemicals in food. So, the demand for organic is automatically on the rise.
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Is it challenging to work with locals?
Yes, it is extremely challenging. The working style is different and their work beliefs are different. The corporate working style does not work here. People are very sensitive and we have to be very careful with what work we allocate them.
How would you be differentiating this effort from others?
Besides eco-friendly practices, hill stations face scarcity of water. Therefore, at Dyo we have rainwater harvesting using gravity-based system and water supply drainage pipe. At present, 4 lakh litres of rainwater is harvested and we further plan to multiply the capacity.
We majorly focus on recycling practice. Fallen leaves, farm and kitchen waste are recycled for the preparation of manure using compost pits, and Cow dunk used for farm manure. We focus on energy conservation and have solar roof panels
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We want to bring a change in the local farmers’ lives, to ensure they don’t lack basic facilities and educating them further would be our main motto. We are also planning to expand and sell our produce to the cities and working in its supply chain.
Any other challenges?
The biggest challenge is overcoming the doubts. You have to believe in your dream and set strict goals. We two had a different educational background, thus, learning organic farming techniques and mingling with the locals wasn’t easy. We attended various seminars on the organic farming and studied about the market for Luxury Resort and analysed the competition. Then came the challenge of raising funds which itself was a big ordeal to crossover.
But ultimately it is important to have a bigger purpose in life and follow your instincts. Utilize your education in a field that helps people and the society as a whole.
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