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SAMRDI- A sustainable living

Maximal utilisation of local resources to create a sustainable food system thereby improving the quality of life.

Photo of Mithun Mathew
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Lead Applicant Organization Name


Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?


What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Kerala, my homeland fills me with awe every time I think about it. Being born and raised in Kerala, a place endowed with the title of being ‘God’s Own Country’, I would like to give back to my native place with a regenerative food system for my people here. Kerala with its indubitable diverse topography, rich culture, magical climate and kind people mesmerizes visitors, tourists and me alike. The State of Kerala in India can be termed as exceptional, especially when one tries to understand the stereotypical assumption of South Indian food. People here are mostly non-vegetarian, owing to the large coastal line and fishing activities within the State. Kerala's open gates to foreign influences, specially to new food and people is notable and quite different, opposing the general norm of conservatism, closure and valorization of the familiar and the local in the southern part of the subcontinent. Meanwhile, certain items are strongly associated with the identity of the Keralite community, local foods being the one the Keralites seem the most attached to. These foods evoke food memory, comforting and provoking desire and appetite subjecting oneself to nostalgic longing. Time has seen changes in the culture of food; while my grandparents savored tapioca mixed with chili, onion and coconut, I often find myself and my generation placing orders on my phone with a click and chugging down sugary drinks and hogging unhealthy food to help me get through my hectic schedule. Corresponding to the changed trend, the agriculture in my State underwent major structural changes as well, lowering our natural food intake to the minimum while seeing a rise in the consumption of processed foods. I would like to see us enjoy our homegrown tapioca, clear air and our earthy nature once again. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Kerala is South India's most serenely beautiful state. This graceful coastal strip is defined by its layered landscape: almost 600km of glorious Arabian Sea coast and beaches; a relaxed network of scenic backwaters; and the spice and tea covered hills of the Western Ghats. The name Keralam is believed to have been originated from the word “kera” and “alam”. Kera means coconut and alam means land or location - Thus it is meant by “The Land of Coconut Trees”. Kerala covers almost 3% India’s population of India which makes it the 13th most populous state in India. Kerala has an estimated population of 3.34 Crores in which the female population outnumbers the male population. Kerala, which lies in the tropic region, is mostly subject to the type of humid tropical wet climate experienced by most of Earth's rainforests. The hilly areas experience a cold climate whereas the plains and coastal areas have a warm climate. There are three major seasons in Kerala which are monsoon, summer, and winter. Rice, the main food crop of Kerala and Tapioca, the plenty next grown crop after rice and cash crops like coconut, rubber, tea, coffee, pepper, cardamom, arecanut, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon etc. gives the agricultural sector of Kerala a distinct flavour. The agro climatic conditions in Kerala suite the cultivation of a variety of seasonal and perennial crops. One of the major attractions of Kerala is its cuisine. There’s a reason people go gaga over the varieties and flavours of Kerala cuisine! Inspired by a fusion of Malabari, French, and Arabian influences and enhanced with a touch of Kerala’s unique culture, each dish in the state is an experience in itself that will leave you asking for more! From the enormous platters of vegetarian dishes like Sadya, the range of non-vegetarian dishes made with seafood, lamb, and beef, to the sweet and savoury delicacies, the food of Kerala will take you on a joyride! Named as one of the ten paradises of the world by National Geographic Traveller, Kerala is famous especially for its ecotourism initiatives and beautiful backwaters. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demography, have made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Agriculture in Kerala was once regarded as the finest supplier of spices during ancient times. However, things have changed remarkably in the last decade. Troubles have been brewing in Kerala for some time now and the once prosperous state in now in the doldrums due to a debilitating agricultural crisis. 

Kerala is a state deficit in food production. Of the total requirements of food grain, only 15 per cent is being produced in the State. In the case of vegetables, the State heavily relies on its neighbouring States.  The lack of profits and adequate investments by the government in agriculture forces people to turn away from agriculture. The deteriorating situation in agriculture is also affecting Kerala's economy. Kerala has an agriculture-based economy. Most of the people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Agricultural products do have a highly sensitive price market in Kerala. The prices are tending to fluctuate during different seasons very widely. The Kerala agricultural sector has now become very unproductive due to the absence of adequate financial requirements. The culture of Kerala has long been associated with its food. But today the Western culture has changed the eating habits of Kerala itself. Now pizza, burger and fried chicken have replaced the traditional foodstuffs like rice and tapioca. Though there are many policies to improve the agriculture sector and to food security in Kerala, the inadequate implementation of them destroys the agriculture sector.

Advancement in rural development, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting valuable ecosystems are major concerns of this era. In the same time, we are facing food crisis also. Population growth is one among the leading cause for this, the current population of Kerala is 3.48 Crores it will reach 37.8 million in 2050. Many of the regions already have undernourished people this condition will worsen by 2050. In addition to this consumption of meat and other dairy products are increasing day by day in Kerala. They are different from vegetable food or plant-based food items because they are resource-intensive. We need to produce more food in 2050 because we need to feed more people. Climatic changes fasten this procedure, this will negatively affect crop yields in many areas. Kerala is a state known for agriculture production, the majority of the people are working in the primary sector. We need to reduce the food gap but, unfortunately, it’s increasing. Shifting from beef to other meat products will help to save the land and rustic beauty. So people have to concentrate more on vegetables and cereals. As mentioned earlier, Kerala partially relies on other states in India for food. By 2050, Kerala will reach the point where it has to rely entirely on other states in terms of food production.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Two generations before, Kerala used to be land of fertile soil that harvested alot. We were self-sufficient state in terms of food, that is, we have always produced our own veggies. Until recently, Kerala is deficit in food production, when we had to depend on the other states of the country for our daily food. Kerala is a state that has plenty of resources, a beautiful climate, fertile soil and also a state where its citizens continue to have their needs. Unfortunately, the resources haven't met the needs of the people in the right manner. People have become completely economy-oriented that they have started to buy every goods and service including their personal duties. They continue to purchase and consume and have totally ignored the fact of producing something other than money. Keralites have started to use everything for selfishness including the environment. Agriculture and farming have been a part of our culture from time known and also it was one of the greatest industries of the state. Degradation and depletion of agricultural lands leading to food insecurity and decreasing agricultural activities. Reducing rates of small scale industries and entrepreneurs, an increasing number of labourers than entrepreneurs leading to income inequality.  While 1% of India enjoys 60% of it's wealth, leaving only 40% for the rest, the rich keeps getting richer while the poor gets poorer. Employees are on the rise while employers are on the decline; with employees working hard to make ends meet and the employers experiencing an enjoyable amount of luxury in their existence.

Agricultural employability is seeing an all time low now, with most of the new generation opting for IT or other related fields, leaving agriculture to fend for itself. It is not unreasonable to assume that by 2050, a good security threat is imminent in the State if it is let to stay and progress the same way as it is being done now.

Though we had lost track, we have become aware of the growing challenges and the impact it can have on us. We still have the hope to bounce back to ourselves by incorporating all kinds of changes in a positive manner. Samrdi comes forward to address these challenges and guide our fellow beings. We bring back the concept of being self-sufficient. 

In a nutshell, Samrdi not just looks into food production and a change in the food system, but also to have a lifestyle change by bringing a change in the food system

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Since Kerala does not produce it's own food, dependency on other States have been on the rise for food products in the State. Due to the import of food, high amounts of insecticides and pesticides turn out to be necessary for maintenance. This in turn affects the productivity of the people, tiring them out sooner than later.

Although Kerala is filled with resources up to the neck, development has stolen most of Kerala's healthy habits of resource utilization depleting it's self sustenance options. Kerala has witnessed a large in flow of funds from various sources and become obedient to the rules money dictates, going from a close knit family based community to that of nuclear family, and further welcoming modern ideas of child care, nannies and old age homes.

The population now works hard to buy the food that they could produce in their own backyards, and services we do not need if we took care of our eating habits. Moreover, money has changed the entire dynamics of the Keralite society, wherein buying, rather than producing became the norm. Needs that were earlier unheard of, has creeped into the society and rooted itself 

As is common knowledge, food from restaurants and the like are often unhealthy bringing innumerable lifestyle diseases with it. As mentioned earlier, Kerala's historical culture had seen most people choosing to be  farmers, which is now disappearing almost entirely. Kerala is slowly moving towards a generic space, with no identity of it's own, it's special cuisine being forgotten, it's seasonal produce overlooked and it's special tastes - a buried past.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Encouraging responsible and need-based production and consumption through SAMRDI, the ecosystem that had been once stirred up can be rebuilt, the disrupted organic cycle is fixed, wastage is reduced, climatic conditions improve, natural habitat is restored. Revitalising farming increases the greenery of the state which in turn reduces pollution and other environmental hazards. Localised production of the food resources reduces transportation, usage of chemicals thereby improving the health conditions of mankind and the degradation of the environment is brought down to a great extent. This also ensures the production of fresh vegetables and fruits, better nutrition, food security consequently reducing the lifestyle diseases among Keralites. 

The growing income inequality in Kerala has negatively impacted poor citizens' access to healthcare. Rising income inequality makes it difficult for the poor to climb up the economic ladder and increases their risk of being victims to the poverty trap. People living at the bottom 10% are characterized by low wages; long working hours; lack of basic services such as first aid, drinking water and sanitation.economic inequality reduces to a great extent. Through Samrdi, economic inequality is addressed and also a solution is brought to it. Production of the necessary food is being cultivated locally, because of relying on other states will be out of the question.

SAMRDI aims to improve rural lives with the participation of the rural people so as to meet the required needs of the rural communities. By decentralizing production from cooperates to small scale industries, there will be an increase in the number of entrepreneurs and a decrease in income inequality. This can enable the betterment of the livelihoods of people in a more individualistic proficiency development manner rather than a generic manner. Through this, the holistic development of an individual as well as the country takes place.

A great change can be bought to the lifestyle and culture by transforming the food system in such a manner. Cultivating the food together by a community improves the social communication between people. Not only does socialisation increase but it also improves the communication within a family. Bringing back the major occupation of Kerala will automatically have a great impact on the cultural side.

Even in the current situation, most people including families have limited home cooked meals and prefer buying food. Culturally, even though Kerala has maintained that at least one of the partners chooses to be a homemaker, the millennials are seen to be more focused on their careers, resulting in increased demand for ready to eat meals ordered online applications prepared at restaurants with attractive offers too.

Merging the latest technology with traditional methods improves and fastens the process of farming and harvesting. This, in turn, increases the production of food, ensuring food security in the state of Kerala.

The system brings a huge impact and transformation to Kerala. The highlight of Samrdi is that we can inspire other similar states in India.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Ekaterina Egorova

Hi Mithun Mathew 

We’ve developed this Pocket Guide to support you through the final days of wrapping up your submission.

This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.

Go ahead, review the check-list and final words of advice before the deadline.

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