Millet and mass appeal                            

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Read full article By Vidya Iyengar @ The New Indian Express Photo Credit: ENS

As young boys growing up in Thenkahalli in Mandya, Mahesh and Chandrashekhar Basavanna remember munching on chakli and pappad made from ancient grains.

BENGALURU: As young boys growing up in Thenkahalli in Mandya, Mahesh and Chandrashekhar Basavanna remember munching on chakli and pappad made from ancient grains. While there has been a renewed interest in ancient grains, Chandrashekhar rues the niche audience it is available to.

Which is why their offerings — Millet Crunchies Tomato, Millet Chikkis Peanuts, Millet Cookies Coconut, Millet Bars DryFruits, Millet Bars Immunity Booster — are priced between `5 and 50. Launched recently, the all-day snacking products by Kiru will be sold on e-commerce sites and their website. “Ironically, rice, which was considered a rich man’s grain, is now widely available, while millets, which used to be a poor man’s grain, are being marketed for only a certain section of society,” says Chandrashekhar.

Their farmland, located in the interiors of the village, hardly gets any water supply. Which is why millets thrive there. “A hardy crop, it has high nutritional value and is ideal for everyday consumption. It requires less water and does not need pesticides or insecticides to fast track growth. With a history of over 3,000 years, millet are now considered a lost grain. It was once a pride of the region,” he says.

They are also incorporating traditional recipes, methods and technology. “We involve the local community in sourcing ideas, recipes and adding a local touch,” he says. The team produces finished products — which are all baked and not fried — working directly with farmers, and passing on the benefits to them, ensuring sustainable employment for the region.

“This includes aiding the farmers in the crop growth to locally sourcing most of the ingredients required for the product development, employing the community in manufacturing and packaging of the end products. Farmers form the core of our company and operate all functions at the factory.” While business is on a shaky ground at present, Chandrashekhar is confident that their launch comes at the right time. “Food and health are key aspects at this point. At the same time, people are looking to make a healthy switch,” he says, adding that the call for vocal for local has only added impetus to their project

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November 23, 2020

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