Who Feeds Bengaluru: Day 1

Talk #1 – 10.00 AM: Tales from a Seedkeeper
Speaker: Prabakhar Rao, Hariyalee Seeds

Dr Rao will talk to us about the city’s indigenous seeds and edible plant biodiversity, why it’s now disappearing and what we can do to preserve our future.

Prabhakar Rao has been a SEED KEEPER for over 25 years, collecting indigenous native vegetable seeds that are on the brink of extinction. His travels have taken him to remote parts of the world where his interactions with the older generation of farmers has allowed him access to these forgotten varieties. Returning to India in 2011, he conducted extensive testing of over 500 such varieties in his farm in Bengaluru, for genetic stability and environmental suitability. He has now successfully stabilized around 140 rare indigenous vegetable varieties, collected from both within the country and abroad. From his farm Hariyalee Seeds, he now reaches out to other passionate Seed Keepers, Farmers and Urban Gardeners, and collectively works towards the preservation and propagation of these rare vegetable varieties that are on the brink of extinction. Hariyalee Seeds is a family-run farm which curates species of endangered and heirloom seeds.

Talk #2 – 11.00 AM: The Olericulture that Influenced Restaurant-Culture
Speaker:  Nameet M, co-founder First Agro/Sakura Fresh

Nameet will share with us how the idea of first agro began and how growing plants for flavour changed the way Bangalore’s chefs and restaurants were creating and serving food.

Nameet is the Co-Founder and Chief Production Head at First Agro. He is both a farmer as well a commercial pilot, a unique background which blends two distinct passions well. Nameet is a subject matter expert in Olericulture (science of vegetable growing), hydroponics and Integrated Pest & Disease Management who had pioneered the Zero Pesticide™ cultivation globally by using natural methods, a hands-on experience gained by working with commercial growers in British Columbia, Canada over many years.

Talk #3 12.00 PM: A City of Plant-Based Identities
Speaker: Spurti Ravi, Food Scientist

Spurti will share with us a history of the vegan movement in Bangalore, talk to us about the terminologies (vegan, plant- based) and what creative products are being made from plants in Bangalore city to address nutritional and the environment.

Spurti grew up in Bangalore, India with a keen interest in food, flavours and where it came from. She has pursued an undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from R.V. College in Bangalore and a Masters in Food Science from Rutgers University. In 2016, she also moved back to her hometown and set up Ssprout Consulting that focused on R&D solutions for start-ups interested in plant-based foods. As Chief of Research & Development, Spurti now leads product conception, development, commercialization and manufacturing for Goodmylk, a plant-based dairy alternatives start-up based out of Bangalore.

Talk #4 – 1.00 PM:  How to get your hands dirty – Virtually.
Speaker: Gitanjali Rajamani, Co-founder and COO, Farmizen

Technology is shaping the way we interact with food in many different ways. Gitanjali tells us how Farmizen works and why is it important to be closer to the plants we eat?

Gitanjali Rajamani is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Farmizen, which is an agri tech company focused on connecting farmers directly to consumers. She is also the Founder and CEO of GreenMyLife, an urban gardening and landscaping company. Prior to taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, she worked in the Clinical Research space for 12 years handling large scale Pharma operations. She has an MBA in International Management. She is an alum of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program from the Indian School of Business (ISB, Hyderabad), 2016 batch and she was one of the two people globally to win the “Fortune and
Goldman Sachs Global Women Leader" award for the year 2018.

Talk #5 – 2.00 PM:  Urban Foraging 101
Speaker: Tansha Vohra, Permaculturist

Foraging in a city is not just picking up random plants off the street. It’s about having a close relationship with your surroundings and people and knowing what plants are growing around in the city, their scientific names and properties, (are they even edible?!), how to taste and cook them. It’s also a great way to explore a city.

Tansha Vohra is currently trying to find solutions to the conundrum of being human in the urbanverse. She quit her full time job in the city to study and practice permaculture. She worked at a permaculture homestead in Goa for a year, and is now trying to grow her own food in her balcony. She is a writer, and she plays with her food before she eats it.