Read full article By Nina C George @ The Deccan Herald Photo Credit: The Deccan Herald
Entrepreneur duo Mahesh Basavanna and Chandrashekhar Basavanna, founder and director of Kiru, a startup by OrgTree, started with an idea to introduce millets to a generation that strives towards being health conscious. Mahesh and Chandrashekhar are also brothers who grew up in farmlands, surrounded by millet felds.
The result was: Kiru. In an interview with Metrolife, Mahesh talks about the startup and the challenges involved in setting up the same.
Is it your growing up years that inspired you to start snacks using millets?
Yes. Growing up we always had millet-based snacks at home that were made with recipes passed down through generations. My brother and I grew up alongside millet elds, which was the staple food of our forefathers in Thenkahalli, a village in Malavalli Taluk in Mandya district. We tilled the land with millets with our family. With a history of almost 3000 plus years, Millet is now considered the lost grain,
which was once a pride of the region. We were keen on reintroducing the lost grain back to the communities and improving the lives around our village.
What kind of research has gone into setting up this startup?
We started by focusing on adding inputs in the farming practices to grow millets. The more we engaged with all the farmers in the region, the more we felt the need to create an opportunity that could enable viable economic development that is sustainable environmentally as well for both the farmer and soil. That is when Kiru was born and it emanates the farmer’s identity. We choose millet for obvious reasons. It is a local crop that is good for the soil and hardy. Millets have high nutritional value and are ideal for everyday consumption. They require less water and does not need pesticides or insecticides to fast track growth. It can be moulded to put together delicious and healthy products.
Today, the community social initiative employs 200 farmers directly or indirectly. Farmers form the core of the company and operate all functions at the factory. The company also involves the local community in sourcing product ideas and recipes to bring the local touch. The team produces nished products where the millets are grown, working directly with the farmers, and passing on their rightful bene ts to them, ensuring sustainable employment for the region.
The benefits of millet are well known. What makes you think that the youngsters will take to this form of snacking?
There is a conscious shi with consumers across all age groups who are now looking at a more mindful and healthy way of living. Healthy snacks t in very well with that lifestyle. At the same time, I do not think that there is lack of interest among youngsters. We aren’t making snacks that are unfamiliar to youngsters, in fact, we are making snacks that youngsters love.
The recipes do have a nostalgic touch to it though.
What is the biggest challenge that you face in a market already ooded with savouriesSUPPORT DH?
The challenge and also an opportunity is to introduce snacks made of millets. I do not think lot of experiments have been done with that. We know the bene ts of millets, we have lived through it. I also say it is an opportunity because, we have a distinct and unique offering to our customers that is healthy and tasty. We want customers to know and understand that health and taste can be combined with a grain that is known to our bodies through generations and is bene cial to us.