Vandita Tiwari talks to the Dharma Team about her company CoCoWing. She is a climate change enthusiast and has been researching for the last few years on what can help us reduce the adverse impact of climate change.
Vandita says: ‘Cocowing’ name is inspired by coconuts. We manufacture organic soil and jute grow bags for eco-friendly gardening.
Dharma Team: What is the story behind your initiative?
CocoWing: I am a climate change enthusiast and have been reading a lot about the side effect and ill effects of climate change. Upon understanding that soil is the crux, I thought if we could make the soil organic, the soil would become less reliant on chemicals, positively impacting the overall climate. To support I started researching about would help us make soil organic; I discovered that it was tender coconut. Though it is called tender, it is tough to decompose, almost 4-6 years. We started working with tender coconut, and when we mixed it with our soil, it became organically rich. When we started making the soil, the customers demanded pots too, and then we added jute grow bags. That is my inspiration, and I wanted to work on creating something for future generations.
Dharma Team: What is the uniqueness of your venture?
CocoWing: Many people use cocopeat while gardening for conditioning. The cocopeat is made of matured coconut shells. Often, we have seen tender coconut lying along the roadsides near the tender coconut vendor. It cluttered the city, which motivated me to think about solutions for using these tender coconuts. As I mentioned, coconut shells decompose in 3 – 6 years. I worked on a resolution during the pandemic, which decomposes coconut shells in fifty-two days and uses them ourselves. It is an organic solution; we tried these solutions ourselves since we are a team of women entrepreneurs. We have often seen gardeners struggle with mixing cocopeat, vermin-compose and other ingredients to prepare the soil, and we have then come up with a range of premix with 45 – 50% organic ingredients. The plant is grown in the ground, extracting organic nourishment, and the soil levels decrease. Since the gardener observes the soil level coming down, they understand that they need to add nutrition to the soil. Another product is a soil tablet; We have one table that gives food to the plants. In thirty days, the tablet dissolves, and we need to re-nourish the plant. Instead of plastic bags, people can use jute grow bags. We need to create awareness around jute grow bags.
Dharma Team: What are the challenges that you have faced?
CocoWing: When we start a business, there are challenges. One main challenge for me was testing the soil during the pandemic. The second one was acceptance. If we were making a product only for urban gardeners, then the product outreach that has positive change would have been limited. I wanted to try the product with traditional farmers who are reluctant to try anything new, which is one challenge we face. However urban gardeners accept our products, but we are still trying to work around conventional farmers.
Dharma Team: Is there any traditional practice involved in your work?
CocoWing: The root of being organic is traditional. Like people used to use green waste in their gardens, but we started with chemical fertilisers because of multiple agricultural revolutions. So, we are returning the people to the roots where chemical fertilisers weren’t used. In some sense, we are preserving our tradition because that is one way our climatic conditions will improve.
Dharma Team: What impact does your business have on the community, or will it affect the community in the long run?
CocoWing: It is imparted in our vision to have positive climate change. Firstly, the people who understand our work understand the concept of wet waste and dry waste. They also appreciate that wet waste is nourished and can be used in the garden. The wet waste is waste up until it is thrown off. We are also working on decluttering the cities with tender coconut shells. In the long run, we will have a cleaner city, better soil and healthy crop.
Dharma Team: What is your plan of action to sustain your work?
CocoWing: From the business point of view, we have more customers who could make the business sustainable. We can increase our production capacity once we have a sustained base of customers. Once the production capacity increases, we can focus on contacting traditional farmers. We call it the stock in soil; whenever you go on a vacation and don’t get to water the indoor plant for 4 -5 days, the plant retails its nourishment. Once we explain the products to the customers the benefits, they can resonate with us.
Dharma Team: What is your message for the world?
CocoWing: Until we throw the wet waste into the dustbin, it is a nourishing agent. It is time we give back to the soil and make the environment healthier for future generations.