28 May 2019
THE HANS INDIA
Rajendranagar: Established with the aim of accelerating research and technology development, promoting domestically produced nutritional food grains and emphasising their healthy benefits, the Department of Foods and Nutrition (DFN) at Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) has moved a step further in commercialising process, preparation and marketing of millet-based food products, thereby creating self-employment opportunities.
According to officials, the idea is to help people of all walks of life, especially the entrepreneurs, post-graduate students and the farmers, who are showing keen interest in establishing their own businesses, rather than relying on the government or other employment generating agencies to sustain their lives.
It’s no more a secret that millets are abundant in nutrients and phyto chemicals, which are health benefiting compounds and can fight against the double burden of nutrition and lifestyle diseases. Understanding the importance of these millets, the government of India has declared them as Nutri-Cereals.
To bring back millets into mainstream food, PJTSAU has established an exclusive Millet Processing and Incubation Centre for technology development, processing, value addition and entrepreneurial development.
Established in 2013 under the extensive vegetation of PJTSAU, the Millet Processing & Incubation Centre is making all sorts of commercially viable millet-based products through reformulation of nutrient poor products to nutri-dense products.
The centre is also providing training to undergraduates under experiential learning programme of the university on the mode of converting the millets into various value-added products, so as to help them establish their own start-ups and become self-employed shortly after the completion of their courses.
“PJTSAU has embarked on technology development for commercially viable millet products, such as biscuits, pasta, vermicelli, noodles, extruded RTE snacks, self-stable rotis, flakes etc., under various projects. Since 2013, we have organised 4 millet festivals to bring awareness, especially among the prospective entrepreneurs, farmers and all the stakeholders of the field.
Encouraged by the awareness initiatives and with the rolling up market demand for millet-based products, more than 50 individuals have, so far, set up their processing centres at various locations in the state and it is really encouraging,” said Dr TV Hymavathi, professor (FN) & officer In-charge at Research Centre, PJTSAU.
Biscuits, vermicelli, noodles, pasta, flakes, extruded snacks, semolina, multi-grain flour etc., were developed from sorghum, pearl millet, foxtail millet and ragi. The products developed using these technologies are rich in micro nutrients, dietary fibre and antioxidants. Gluten-free foxtail millet, sorghum biscuits and semolina are also developed here. These technologies are commercialized after up-scaling in the processing centre and are made available for technology transfer.
There is a growing awareness of the nutritional value of the coarse cereals such as Jowar, foxtail millet and ragi, kodo millet, barnyard millet, proso-millet, little-millet and brown-top millet etc., these days making them more popular among those who are health conscious and tend to change their dietary habits in order to avoid any lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and hypertension, and so on, to lead a healthy life.
Millets also found to be climate resilient
Millets are climate resilient and can grow under harsh conditions and can withstand the changing climate conditions. Due to the climatic change, there will be high CO2 levels and can significantly reduce the levels of Zinc and Iron in four staple crops: wheat, rice, maize and soybeans. No such reductions were reported in millets. Even with reductions, the millets are abundant in minerals.
Any entrepreneur interested in millet processing can easily use the facility for manufacturing millet products of their own by obtaining university license upon paying the user charges fixed by the university.
Competitive private parties can join hands with PJTSAU in establishing food processing units and commercializing millet products under Public Private Partnership (PPP). Interested parties from any part of the country can obtain license for processing technology of millet products that are available at the university.
Customised short-term training to the interested groups will be given at the centre on selected primary processing technologies. Technical guidance and support will be provided to the prospective entrepreneurs in establishing small millet processing units and enterprises.
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