Meet Sharmila Oswal, a patriotic entrepreneur making wonders with wonder grains

The United Nations declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYOM 2023) at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) headquarters. Millets, mainly a kharif crop in India, have a high nutritional value. They are a diverse group of cereals including pearl (bajra), propo, foxtail, barnyard, little, kodo, browntop and others, and are an essential source of nourishment for millions across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.Sharmila Oswal has been a part of the millet mission in India for the last 20 years. She has played a paramount role in raising awareness about one of India’s staple crops that has been recognised on the global stage. Based in Pune, she is the Managing Director of 1Organic, a social venture started during the lockdown. It aims to make organic food more accessible and affordable.

The beginning & the Green Energy Foundation

Born and brought up in a conservative Marwari family in Konkan, Sharmila fought for her education and studied by securing scholarships both in India and abroad. She had to even convince the administration’s office at ILS Law College that she would be an asset to the institution to get admission.  From there, she went on to secure scholarships to pursue the Water Leadership Programme from the National University of Singapore and earned a position as a Water Diplomat at Tuft University. “As a young child, when I saw my sisters in the Ghunghat, I wanted to make my own path through education,” Sharmila shares. Sharmila hails from a family that has been literally involved with India’s freedom struggle. Her mother had been part of the Satyagraha movement during the time of Mahatma Gandhi. Patriotism for her meant being of help to people in need and she hence began working closely with farmers from across the country through her non-profit organisation, Green Energy Foundation.

The inspiration behind

The world has hit a “reset button in 2020 – people are now keen to go “back to the basics”. It is now well known to us that food laced with harmful chemicals cannot give us health and immunity. The only solution now seems to be organic food – the kind of fresh, chemical-free food our ancestors used to eat before harmful chemicals and pesticides took over agriculture. Sharmila is a firm believer in the old adage that prevention is better than cure and that it begins with healthy eating.  “Today, eating organic and naturally grown food has become a trend associated with the rich and the wealthy. As we saw deaths due to COVID-19 and other diseases during the lockdown, making organic food accessible felt like the need of the hour,” she mentions. This encouraged her son Shubham Oswal to officially launch 1Organic, a marketplace for affordable and cruelty-free organic food.

1Organic: Organic food firm on a ‘health mission’

Ours is a health mission to turn kitchens into pharmacies through supply of organic products. This will boost immunity and help build a healthy India,” adds Ms. Oswal.

The company aims to break the myth that organic food is expensive and only the rich could afford it. They are bringing it to the masses by closely working with more than 2,000 farmers. It is also providing employment to numerous women and men in villages.

By cutting middle-men and directly working with farmers 1Organic has managed to sell their products at rates of non-organic general products available in the market. So the common people can now afford organic products.

The firm offers more than 75 products in the categories of pulses, rice, spices, seeds, oil and seeds.

2023: International Year of Millets

Working at the nexus of agriculture, water and food security, Sharmila has been training farmers and equipping them in capacity-building for over two decades, speaking about the advantages of millet and why India is propagating this crop.

“Millet grains are fortified, and well-equipped with zinc, ammonite, phosphorus and iron. These seeds cater to the malnourished in rural India as well. It is the best choice for pregnant women, and children lacking nutrition or with anaemia issues. Millets are a great nutritional resource and a supplement for India,” she adds

Written by :Aditi Gupta

Author’s bio:

A vivacious and lively girl living in Delhi, on her voyage for exploration of colours  in life. A glimpse of what she does: Read, write, eat, Repeat!


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