Basmati rice from the tehsil of Ranbir Singh Pora, raw white honey from Bhaderwah, rajma (red kidney beans) from Marwah, shahi jeera (caraway seeds) from Padder, the districts and villages of Jammu and Kashmir have a very specific set of offerings. A new online portal, Hamiast.com, is hoping to bring all these specialties to a global audience and give farmers, artisans and local enterprises a chance to showcase their diverse produce. Hamiast means “it is here", a phrase made famous by Persian poet Amir Khusrau’s lines, “Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast/Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast (If there is a paradise on earth/It is here, it is here, it is here)".

Until the 1950s, J&K was a largely self-sufficient state. Political and economic instability changed that, leading to greater reliance on imports. Yet, the state’s unique terroir and traditional farming practices continue to yield high-quality produce. Very little of it, however, makes its way to markets in the rest of the country. Access, right pricing and logistics are the biggest challenges and it was this gap that prompted Qazi Moien Ahamd Shad, an electrical engineer from Kishtwar, to leave his job at an e-commerce venture and start this platform. “I realized that our farmers and artisans had the highest quality products but they lacked the means to get the right market," says Shad. He travels to remote corners of the state to source products and even helps with branding and certification. “Although our scale is small, we have started to connect the dots," he says. Apart from grains, honey, dried fruits, spices and tea, the website has a gourmet section with offerings from legendary establishments, like ready-to-eat cans of wazwan delicacies, including goshtaba, rista, yakhni and korma, from the Mughal Darbar restaurant in Srinagar. The website ships worldwide and apart from food, also sells local arts, craft and other cottage products.

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