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TelanganaBringing millets back to fields, plates

Bringing millets back to fields, plates

Published: 17th Oct 2021 12:10 am | Updated: 16th Oct 2021 10:13 pm

Hyderabad: Vishala Reddy earlier worked in the tourism segment, one of the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, that did not deter Vishala Reddy from pursuing her dreams. She quickly pivoted to make millet her mainstay and set up a Millet Bank, which is now a marketing bridge between millet producers and consumers.

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Its foundational work took six months and the company got registered this April. Since then, the Millet Bank stitched sales worth Rs 25 lakh. The Millet Bank introduced 15 stock keeping units (SKUs) including millet cookies, laddus, and snacks in about 100 stores. “The focus is to bring 25 more millet-based products this year and double the number the next year,” said Vuyyala Vishala, Millet Bank Founder.

“We recently got order for 2,500 kg millets from Australia. Now, we are reaching out to farmers in our network to supply this. Going by the trends, we will be in a position to handle orders to the tune of 25,000 kg in a year. It is equivalent to the crop area of about 350- 400 acres,” she said. “Farmers are finding millet cultivation difficult due to low remunerative prices. We are working to ensure that farmers get better prices, improve sourcing and increase productivity. Many farmers, especially women, are affected with malnutrition and we are educating them to eat more millets,” she said.

“We are coming up with products such as cookies, pasta, and flours. These will make millet adoption by the urban communities easy. We observed that over 90 per cent of people cannot identify millets. We will also shortly launch a YouTube channel to popularise millet recipes. We will also bridge the farmer-market gap to sell more raw millets to companies,” she said.

Micro-entrepreneurs making products such as ragi laddus, biscuits, flours, and others too are suffering due to lack of marketing support. “We realised there is no need for us to get into production or manufacturing. We are giving raw materials and formulations to these entrepreneurs and selling products under our brand. We recently launched an all-day porridge with 20 ingredients,” she said adding that the company works with farmers from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and entrepreneurs from Telangana. The company is also making oils that grow in the same dryland ecosystem available through its networks. “We will create brands for traditional millet as well as fun food segments,” she said. The company is using Instagram and WhatsApp to take orders.

New concept
Millet Bank has evolved a new marketing concept. “We offer Cheriyal paintings and Ikat products and other traditional crafts along with millet products in a zero-plastic basket. Each basked is priced at Rs 5,000- Rs 6,000. About 200 such baskets have been sold in the recent time and were presented to the visiting trade, foreign and government officials,” she said. The proceeds are shared with multiple stakeholders involved in it.

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