Think Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh and the impressions that immediately crop up in your mind are the pristine, spotless stretches of land, miles of greenery and natural beauty to explore amidst the rich, vibrant native culture and the widely popular Ziro festival of music.
But to anyone’s delight and surprise, this is not all that the valley has to offer. Come and raise a toast to the misty land of Ziro, with a glass of the locally produced Kiwi wine!
Native from the valley, 37-year-old Tage Rita Takhe, is an entrepreneur with a difference, who sought to use the potential of Ziro for exotic wine-making out of locally grown, succulent Kiwis. And her aspiration has bear fruit in a rather exquisite way.
A trained agricultural engineer, Takhe quit her government job at a prestigious position to launch her winery and make her dreams come true which is to come back to her homeland in Hong village in Ziro and do something for the people of the valley.
Having been awarded Vasundhara Northeast Women Entrepreneurs Award in New Delhi last year, Takhe is the first from India to have concocted this exotic drink of kiwi wine. Currently, owing a boutique factory having 25 full-time employees, Takhe brews the country’s sole production of kiwi wine.
Named Naara-Aaba, the unique golden wine is although for now available only in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with some bottles having been sold to Meghalaya as well sent abroad like Shanghai, China and Myanmar where the wine has been well received, Takhe is now poised to capture India’s market through the length and breadth of the country to have wine lovers have a taste of the potion from the hearts of Ziro.
But the exotic wine, which is now the drink of the valley, has an inspiring story behind it which centres around Takhe, her beautiful homeland and the people of Ziro.
Takhe although was a successful engineer with a good job in a government department knew in her heart that something was missing. “I was uncomfortable with my own self. Deep inside, I wanted to serve the people of my own community,” she said in an interview put together in a video on the website of CNBC-TV18.
Takhe in the interview mentioned that one must listen to one’s inner voice and that “you have to be yourself”.
Takhe was fixated on the idea of economically liberating the people from Ziro valley and she came up with the perfect elixir for the same.
Kiwi, the juicy fruit, which is known for its sweet and tangy taste grows in the Ziro Valley in abundance but on the downside due to lack of market demand for the fruit from the valley, kiwi farmers of Ziro had been withdrawing from cultivating the fruit.
At one point, Takhe came across a stock full of Kiwi just lying on the ground of the farm and rotting. The sight broke her heart but it gave her one brilliant idea that proved to be a game changer for the farming community of Ziro.
She realized the only way to put the abundantly grown Kiwi from Ziro to good use was making wine out of it. And once the idea hit her there was no looking back. Although a difficult venture to start with, Takhe along with her husband Takhe Tamo continued to work at it till their dreams were realized.
As mentioned in an article on the website Atlas Obscura, it took Takhe and her husband six years of careful planning to get the winery up and running. The couple struggled with finances and was on the verge of bankruptcy but they were finally able to get some banks to believe in their venture to help them out with loans.
As a result of the success of the wine, the demand for kiwi from the region has now shot up and not only the farmers are now cultivating kiwis and improving their economic self-sufficiency, more farmers from the valley and nearby villages as well as young and unemployed youngsters of Ziro Valley are all drawn to the idea of cultivating kiwi and making delicious kiwi wine with Takhe helping them meet their demands and hone their skills. “It shows that I have done something for them,” Takhe stated in the interview taking into account the present demand of kiwi cultivation and kiwi wine making amongst residents of Ziro.
A satisfied entrepreneur, Takhe couldn’t be happier that her dream of making her people stand on their feet has come true.