Bhoomi Ka’s partner Janpahal is running a “Fresh Revolution – Good Food For All”. The campaign aims at empowering people and makes them active partners in the food supply chain by promoting vertical suppliers of consumers, producers and small food vendors.
It began with a simple initiative. As a group of university students, Dharmendra Kumar and his college fellows started teaching kids in the nearby slum in Gopalpur. There, the school drop out rate of children was significantly high. Ever since, they are committed to supporting and organizing low-income communities in informal sectors, on the name ‘Janpahal’ (translated into: The People’s Initiative). Their work focuses on street vendors since the beginning, and over years Janpahal has established itself as an expert in food value chains and food policy related aspects.
Policy Advocacy for Street Vendors
As a consequence of stagnant job opportunities in both farm and industrial in the 1990s, millions of displaced and hard-working rural and urban people are now working as street and roadside vendors who make a living by selling fruits, vegetables, food items, grocery and freshly-made street food. According to the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors 2009, street vendors comprise approximately two percent of the total population in urban cities, and a majority of them are women.
“Due to insufficient government support, street vendors are not licensed or officially registered. This easily makes them subject to harassment, exploitation and eviction by various government authorities on a regular basis”, says Dharmendra Kumar. To promote and protect their livelihood, Bhoomi Ka’s partner Janpahal has created 51 groups of street vendors that in total comprise 15.000 street vendors in Delhi. They have joined hands to form the Hawkers Joint Action committee in the city. They predominantly work to protect the rights of the street vendors.
The Delhi Street Vendors Act passed by the government in 2015 prohibited vendors to cook on the streets and regulated street vending to daytime. Janpahal and its local partners advocated fiercely for the amendments in the Act and asked for the institutional formation of a town vending community. On 9th September 2013, the Supreme Court of India eventually ruled in their favour and ordered all municipal corporations to form Town Vending Committees. Kumar explains, “the implementation of an institutional town vending community is now in process. A total of 40% street vendors will be represented in the council, out of which 30-40% should be women”. Once established, the town vending community will primarily focus on registration, licensing, and documentation of street vendors in Delhi.
Linking Street Vendors to Smallholders & Low-Income Communities
At the same time, however, street vendors face constraints in terms of market access and supply chains of safe food. Bhoomi Ka’s partner Janpahal started the “Fresh Revolution Campaign” by establishing agroecological supply chains including smallholder farmers, street vendors and low-income communities.
As a first step, Janpahal is working together with smallholders who produce agroecological food, which is free from chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Already 40 farmers have become PGS certified . PGS is the preferred system of organic farm certification emerging out of the experience of the organic farming movement worldwide.
In addition, Janpahal attempts to train 150 farmers in organic farming and establish two Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO’s) in 2018. Various exposure visits for street vendors to organic farmers have been initiated to create awareness about organically produced food among street vendors, who, in turn, share this knowledge with consumers. Some street vendors are now sourcing products directly from farmers. One of those is Manni, who is serving fresh prepared Golgaappa made of organic finger millet (Ragi and wheat flour) at his stall. “Janpahal facilitated the contact to agroecological farmers in Uttarakhand from where I can now purchase these millets,” says Manni.
To complete the supply chain, Janpahal focuses on a twin-track approach that on the one hand links organic street vendors to low-income communities, and on the other hand provides an opportunity for some vendors to target middle-income communities. Janpahal has been a Bhoomi Ka partner since 2017. Since then its vendors have participated in several Bhoomi Ka events such as organic fairs and organic food festivals. “We are very happy to cooperate with Bhoomi Ka and are looking forward to further deepening our cooperation in the future, says Dharmendra Kumar.”