The many wonders of The North-East have flown under India’s radar for years, and in that time there have been movements underway that deserve so much more recognition than they’ve received. The shift towards sustainability has swept across India in the last few years but while large corporations waste no time in announcing their ideas, smaller revolutions have been quietly thriving. One such initiative is Zatara Foods, started by a trio of young Naga locals with a passion for promoting local produce.
Started by Sonam Inoka Khulu, Washipong Longkumer, and Sentinaro Alley their journey began in 2013 with the launch of Amonar Tea, ‘a first of its kind and a premium single garden origin tea, sourced from pristine tea gardens in Nagaland that use natural, organic and sustainable methods of farming’. However they soon discovered that large distributors weren’t interested in carrying a local product and that they’d charge exorbitant percentages to do so. Zatara decided to take matters into their own hands and distribute their products independently. With Gorilla marketing and some shrewd business acumen, the distribution arm of Zatara Tea Pvt. Ltd was born and today services Nagaland, North Eastern States, Bangalore, Delhi, Himachal and even online stores.
Their priority with Zatara is to champion local produce, products, self-help groups and women’s organisations. They believe that business owners have the capacity to effect real social change and they strive to do that in all their initiatives. They collaborate with farmers to obtain ethically grown produce and involve themselves is small home-run businesses making products like jams and pickles, and generate employment for the ladies that run them.
With encouraging feedback coming in, Zatara plans to market products all over the country. “People are looking at specialty food more these days and Naga cuisine is pretty popular. The tea surprisingly has a lot of takers” is what they have to say.
And as Sentinaro Alley puts it, “Nagaland is a blank slate. We are so lucky that we get to create valuable brands here from the ground up, that are small but honest. We are loving it.” They may have had quite a few hiccups and hit a few brick walls along the way, but they take it as part and parcel of their line of work and instead say, “we have a good team and we are ready to face whatever that comes our way.” With a lot of exciting things in the pipeline among which include, the Raja Mircha Project, 25 products of their own and a super exciting “farm to table” community based project, Zatara is making headway in the world of Guerilla Marketing and bringing a slice of Nagaland’s amazing and diverse produce to the rest of India.
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