Ramesh Naidu, a farmer from a small village in Chittoor District of Southern India, lives in a joint family along with his brothers, their spouses and children. Like every parent and head of family, he aspired to dream big for his and his brothers’ children. But this was almost impossible due to the severe drought that had afflicted his village around 15 years ago.

Like Naidu, many farmers across the country have been dependent on nature for their farm’s yield and often struggle to provide consistent and large amounts of produce. As a result, their output and agricultural income suffer.

But this son of soil bought 35 acres of land in his village from his major business savings in Bangalore. He bought an existing orchard of mangoes, but wanted to make agriculture more profitable. That’s when he decided to try the Ultra High Density Plantation (UHDP) programme under Project ‘Unnati’, a unique and sustainable agricultural practice.

Like the 1,000 farmers across Chittoor districtand many more states, Naidu is part of Project Unnati, a Coca-Cola India and Jain Irrigation initiative to increase productivity of the local mango crop. Jain Irrigation processes the mango pulp and is the largest supplier to Coca-Cola’s Maaza brand, which is now in its 40th year. Maaza uses Alphonso pulp which is sourced from farmers in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Now, Naidu is hopeful that his 14-acre mango farm at Samireddypalli village, 12 km from Chittoor town in Andhra Pradesh, will yield five tonnes of mango per acre this year. Having taken up the UHDP programme three years ago, Naidu planted over 600 trees in an acre, compared with just 40 trees in the traditional practice, which yielded him just 1.5 tonnes of mangoes an acre.

The objective is to harness the higher productivity potential of mango farms to benefit all stakeholders in the ecosystem. Farmers gain through increased yield, Jain Irrigation buys better quality produce and Coca-Cola can source this key ingredient locally for Maaza.

While in phase 1, Unnati has successfully trained farmers on UHDP technology and encouraged them to adapt to the new, sustainable agriculture practices, phase 2 is focused onbuilding deeper relationships and engagement with farmers.

Coca-Cola India has set an ambitious target to make Maaza a $1-billion brand (approximately ₹6,700 crore) in sales by 2023. The resource infusion behind Maaza is part of a $5 billion investment plan of the company and its bottlers in India between 201 and 2020. This target will see mango pulp procurement increase to more than two lakh tonnes, (worth ₹1,100 crore) annually. At present, Coca-Cola uses up one lakh tonnes of pulp worth ₹650 Crore.

Project Unnati will benefit at least one lakh farmers countrywide. In fact, in Chittoor alone, around 10,000 farmers will be benefit from this.

Today, Ramesh Naidu is happy that he has been able to bring his parents back to their native place and generate enough money to be self-sustainable in the village itself. He is happy that like every parent and head of family, he had aspired to dream big for his and his brothers’ children.And now, he has sent two of his sons and a nephew to pursue a career in Engineering at Bangalore and Hyderabad respectively. That’s not all. Naidu has even encouraged his daughter, who goes to a school far away from their village in Hyderabad, to pursue higher education.