From Delhi to Devbhoomi: Harish Bahuguna’s Journey to Revitalize Uttarakhand’s Economy and Heritage

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Almora – The people of the hills, even when living away, never truly leave their homeland. Their hearts always remain tethered to their roots. Over the past two years, we’ve heard numerous stories of mountain migrants who left their city jobs to do something meaningful for Uttarakhand. It’s no easy feat to create a market for hill products and herbs, let alone provide employment opportunities. Yet, Harish Bahuguna is successfully achieving both.

A Challenging Start

Harish Bahuguna, a resident of Muniyadhara Dol, has had a challenging journey from the start. In 1997, after completing the first semester of law at SSJ Campus Almora, he bid farewell to the hills to work and support his family. Bahuguna recounts that finding a job was essential for their survival, which led him to Delhi due to the lack of resources in his hometown.

A Heart Tethered to the Hills

His deep love for Uttarakhand was evident when he took a handful of soil from his homeland to Delhi. He often reminisced about the mountains, shedding tears of longing. Although he worked for many years in renowned companies, his heart always yearned for the hills.

The Call to Return

Witnessing the loss of many lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, Harish Bahuguna could no longer stay in Delhi. He vowed to return to Uttarakhand and make a difference. He envisioned creating something that would not only provide him with employment but also benefit the local youth.

Studying Local Flora

On June 16, 2020, upon returning to his village in Uttarakhand, Bahuguna began studying the various plants and herbs native to Devbhoomi. He then started cultivating medicinal species and creating products from nutritious ferns like Linguda, wild gooseberry, walnut bark, and Kachnar flowers, generating employment in the process.

Launching Prakritimai Enterprises

Post-lockdown, Harish Bahuguna established his own company, Prakritimai Enterprises, in Lamgara, Almora. He proudly shares that his company offers a range of products, including Uttarakhand-grown saffron and black turmeric from the Odisha region. The company produces fern Linguda pickles, mountain fenugreek seeds, Kachnar, as well as apple and pear products.

Reaching Nationwide

Through his company, Bahuguna is distributing packages ranging from 200 grams to two kilograms across the country. Selling pickles at ₹200 to ₹225 per kilogram, he has sold around 800 kilograms to date. Along with his team, he is developing mixes of wild walnut bark, apricot, less common mountain apples, basil, grapes, and pumpkin seeds. He aims to make Almora known for its gooseberry laddoos and apricot trees.

Embracing Organic Methods

Bahuguna also makes efficient use of buffalo ghee, the abundant Satavari herb from the mountains, and Ashwagandha from Nagaur, Rajasthan. His products have found a good market online, with 98% of his customers being from outside Uttarakhand. This indicates a strong trust in Uttarakhand’s products, something Bahuguna deeply believes in. He asserts that people see Uttarakhand as Devbhoomi, a land of gods, and trust that its inhabitants do not adulterate food products. Maintaining this trust is paramount for him.

Providing Employment

During the pandemic, Bahuguna’s company has become a lifeline for those who lost their jobs or faced financial difficulties. He emphasizes that their goal is to provide employment to as many youths and women as possible. Currently, around 65 families, including those from Tehri, Chamoli, Pauri, and Uttarkashi, are directly employed by his company.

Family Support

From the beginning, Harish Bahuguna’s family has supported his venture. Together with his wife and two sons, he has brought the company to where it stands today. He highlights the importance of understanding and utilizing the natural resources of the mountains. Instead of using acetic acid or other chemicals, they opt for organic preservatives like lemon juice and sugar to keep products fresh.

A Vision for the Future

Individuals like Harish Bahuguna are vital for Devbhoomi. They are the force driving the elimination of migration by bringing mountain products to the global market.

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