See how Zizira Explorers have brought ancient herbs back to life mingled with the goodness of science and the art of organic farming.
Get well with herbs and old medicines; The real nature that blooms bright still in these lands. Make your soups simmer irresistibly, Give help to the farmer’s hearts, Join your growth in dimensions, warm and full of light.
Northeast India, the home to my maternal family is just not beautiful, in fact, it is the spirit of the country – less nurtured but utterly powerful. Visiting these places is like a dream and I have always felt home amid the clouds and the vales; the snow peaks and the bluish mountains.
Home to seven sisters, it is a common belief that nothing that ignores them can flourish. Living in these wonderlands can only bring joy and an enchanting experience.
Meghalaya (Home of the Clouds) is one of the seven sisters with their capital city in Shillong. Lovely smiling faces, glowing skins, melodious songs, rhythmic dances, and lip-smacking food is what represents them best.
One day while browsing through Instagram, I lapped upon this hardworking, unique group that was doing something different – to put it in a better way, they are doing something many cannot even dream of.
They are helping!
Farmers, you and me!
This edition talks about their efforts.
About Zizira Explorers: Know who they are and what they do?
A unit of Chillibreeze Solutions, Zizira was born on the 15th of September, 2015. Zizira’s founder and CEO, Ralph Budelman, from Illinois, Chicago, visited Shillong in 2004. Chillibreeze offered PowerPoint formatting solutions for consulting firms and Fortune 500 companies.
Being an entrepreneur, Ralph’s vision to start Chillibreeze was influenced by the potential he saw in the youth of the northeast. He wanted to ensure that this potential did not go to waste, so he started Chillibreeze to generate employment and offer better opportunities.
Inadvertently, Ralph saw the agricultural resources that northeast India had to offer that were being severely underutilized, especially in Meghalaya alone. So, ten years after Chillibreeze’s inception, Ralph took another leap of faith and launched a pioneering initiative called Zizira, a food-based company with a mission to make farmers famous.
Thus, he entered into this e-commerce business venture to promote fair trade for indigenous northeastern produce of India.
Based in Shillong, Meghalaya, Zizira Explorers began their magnificent journey initially with just a team of seven enthusiastic people. In six years, they have grown into a team of 24 committed individuals who are passionate and driven to achieve Zizira’s vision of “Making Farmers Famous”.
The team today is somewhat a big close-knit family. Varied experiences, trials, and tribulations have brought them closer than ever. They share the same vision and purpose and look out for each other outside office hours.
Being a profit-oriented organization but with a purpose to channel that profit, Zizira aims to strike a balance between social, environmental, and community benefits.
Vision of Zizira Explorers
The team of Zizira Explorers aim to “make farmers famous.” With this aim in mind, Zizira’s founder and CEO, Ralph Budelman is working towards promoting sustainable farming. Due to a lack of stable markets, the farmers are often exploited by the middlemen into selling their hard-earned valuable produce at throwaway prices. Thus, Zizira Explorers is making an earnest effort to help the farmers earn a fair price for their products.
Ralph’s vision is to alter the system and establish a new network of marketers to benefit the farmers and also put Meghalaya on the map for its rich undiscovered bounty. When you buy Zizira’s products, you help them create the process of regenerative and sustainable farming.
How Zizira Explorers are helping farmers of Meghalaya?
Zizira was launched with a vision to open markets for farmers. Their team also goes on frequent ‘epic trips’ where they venture into the most remote locations inaccessible by vehicles on the outskirts of Shillong in search of credible farmers to source exotic herbs, spices, pure honey, and even coffee.
Local farmers of Meghalaya like Kong Pdiangjingshaihun Dkhar began cultivating Lakadong turmeric long back without even having the faintest idea of its worth in the world market.
People like her have come forward to do business with the Zizira group and supply them with exquisite and indigenous produce. Most farmer partners of Zizira are from the outskirts of Shillong such as the Saphai in the West Jaintia Hills and the Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya.
Such people are no longer remaining small-time farmers but turning into entrepreneurs themselves with Zizira’s help. Many women of the region are also being empowered with such entrepreneurial ventures.
A glance at their line of products
Zizira spices and exotic herbs are available at their online store and also on their Instagram page. Here’s a quick look at their line of products.
Herbs & Spices
You will find a range of exotic, premium quality, pure herbs and spices like the famous Lakadong turmeric powder, Ing Makhir ginger powder, Bhut Jolokia, Szechuan Pepper, and lemongrass.
Lakadong turmeric – Obtained from Lakadong, this turmeric possesses high curcumin content (7-9%) and is a very effective natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent.
Ing Makhir ginger powder – Also known as “Sying Makhir,” this is an indigenous variety of ginger found in Meghalaya with strong medicinal properties.
Bhut Jolokia – Bhut Jolokia or Naga Chilli made it to The Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 as the world’s hottest chilli.
Szechuan Pepper – Sichuan pepper from the hills of Meghalaya possesses antispasmodic, anti-flatulence, and pain-relieving properties.
If you are a beverage lover, then Zizira Explorers offer Valerian tea. Besides this, you even find hand-roasted Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee.
Coffee – 7000 steps coffee by Zizira is no ordinary coffee. Grown amid citrus fruit trees and orange trees, pure Arabica and Robusta coffee beans are naturally infused with flavours of oranges and other citrus fruits.
Tea – Herbal tea from Zizira make you fit and rejuvenated.
Mawsynram receives the highest rainfall annually. But it isn’t just famous for the amount of rainfall it receives but also for its honey. This natural honey is made available to people miles away from Mawsynram by the team of Zizira Explorers. Natural honey can help you deal with pollen and other allergies.
Take time to know more about Zizira Explorers
Wondering what can you find with them?
Well, here’s the answer for you:
- Exquisite ingredients for cooking.
- Herbs and shrubs, concoctions, and tonics.
The world of herbs, caressing, nurturing, and growing,
You find hard-working, enthusiastic people, who love their seeds sowing,
Their land is adrift, tucked up in the mountains, giving them the ephemeral glow
A lot remains unexplored and yet, the hearts are tiny gems bold, made of gold – real gold can be found in these hearts as much as in the mines of gold.
Do not let it go to waste, but make haste,
Reach Zizira and you would have helped the soul of the country flourish and grow.
Use their pastes and powders, invent new recipes, and try them out.
Yummy and lip-smacking, I can tell you, you would like it if you are a foodie.
To know a bit more, here are answers to a few questions I put forth and the lovely, enthusiastic group was kind enough to answer.
Here’s a bit about Zizira right from the Zizirans (the word is invented by me!).
How do you collect information about different herbs? Do you collect it from the natives of Meghalaya?
We refer to several sources for information on herbs and spices. Most are based on research from the internet and books. We also rely on traditional folk wisdom which has been passed down over generations. Using our knowledge of the local languages, culture, and drawing information from ancient wisdom and folk medicine, we aim to give customers rare and authentic products, otherwise inaccessible to them.
Do you cover the culinary specialties of the entire Northeast or do you focus mainly on Meghalaya?
Our focus is mostly centered on Meghalaya and what it has to offer. We live in a region that is considered by some to be ‘the richest, most biodiverse region in India’ and we aim to share its bounty with the rest of the world.
The science behind cooking is quite beautifully captured by your blogs. Do you do your research or is it ancestral knowledge?
We rely on several sources; research, experience, and traditional wisdom passed over from our ancestors. Mostly, we try to incorporate all three and apply ourselves accordingly.
Do you function just like a blog, or do you have other roles? Explain every job role briefly.
The team is split into 4 departments:
- Supply Chain – Efficiently manufacturing the products and effectively managing the logistics of delivering them to customers all over India
- Product Development – Research and development of products and making sure the products are following all the ethical measures
- Marketing – Reaching out to potential customers and enabling them to avail our products
- Customer Support – Ensuring each and every customer has a great experience with Zizira.
Do you think that all herbs and spices are a combination of art and sciences coming together to benefit humanity?
In today’s fast-paced world of pharmaceutical drugs and quick fixes, one shouldn’t forget the healing properties of herbs and spices. We are ardent believers of natural cures and remedies which we practice ourselves and propagate as well. We believe that herbs and spices have a high threshold for tremendous healing to benefit humanity especially if incorporated into day-to-day living.
Zizira spices and herbs are not only great for preparing memorable dishes but are also enriched with healing properties. You can connect with them through their website, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter pages, and even via Whatsapp. Interestingly, you can even order their products through Amazon. If you follow them on their social media pages, you will see that time and again numerous offers are available for their exquisite range of products.
The team of Zizira explorers including the network of native farmers strive to source natural products from the hills of Meghalaya, grow them organically and naturally, and use hands instead of machines to adapt them into a convenient form of use.
Images: Thrillophilia, Zizira website, Zizira IG Page
FAQs associated with Zizira Explorers
Lakadong Turmeric indigenous to the hilly terrain of Meghalaya enjoys the reputation of the world’s and India’s best turmeric.
Lakadong turmeric powder made from Meghalaya’s indigenous turmeric variety contains a high level of curcumin up to 8-9%.
As Lakadong turmeric has a rich curcumin content and other bioactive compounds, it exhibits powerful healing properties.
India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric. India suffices for up to 80% of the world’s turmeric requirements.
Chyrmit is a local Jaintia or Pnar word for turmeric and refers to a special variety of turmeric, also known as Lakadong turmeric native to the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya.
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