In today’s world, there is a vast shift in the quality of food we eat. Most of our households are now used to instant food products filled with preservatives which has become our staple food. This Pandemic definitely gave us an opportunity to ponder about our health and Immunity. We now need solutions to help us make the right shift in our eating habits.Here is a story of two women Vishala & Priyanka who are trying to help us make this shift and are determined to revive India’s nutritional diversity and culture through this wonder grain called MILLET.
Vishala and Priyanka have established the brand Millet Bank through which they aim to bring back the nutritional legacy in every household. This brand makes millet based food products affordable, easy and tasty to consume for all age groups.
How did you start to become a part of millets farming?
My sister who was a millet farmer ended up distributing all her produce amongst our relatives and friends in spite of the best yield and appreciation from many agricultural officials. This triggered a thought that if this is the case for my sister what would it be to the women farmers who are the backbone of this farming. So I chose to help them, and that’s how this journey started.
Tell us in detail about your journey
During this pandemic I got an opportunity to visit my village and closely understand the farmers and their problems related to millet farming. To solve this my first step was to create a place where they could meet and discuss, for that I converted one of our unused agricultural shed into a farmer field school cum a millet museum to create awareness about the ancient farm traditions which were sustainable. The second step was to combine all their farms together so that I could benefit them with good machinery required for sowing and efficient harvesting techniques.
Did you have to take any special training for this?
Actually I did not need any specific training , I believe that I was trained by my family and village since childhood. I have grown up watching them go to the fields and harvest at home using traditional methods. I must have lost touch with it for a while but otherwise this was in my roots I feel so very attached to it.
Hardships faced in setting up this process
The main task ahead of me was to gain the farmers’ confidence. I have done that by assuring them that I would buy the crop and kept constantly educating them about the benefits of millets and their demand in the market along with promising them that the new era is about healthy food like millets.
How were you able to convince them to retain traditional methods?
In my view OUR CULTURE IS AGRICULTURE. With the commercialisation creeping in, the farmers were forced to use fertilizers and modern methodologies. I had to just convince the farmers that they are KARMA YOGIS and that they are very important to the society. I constantly remind them that they are responsible for their own and the society’s health and happiness.
How did you happen to join Vishala?
I have been an entrepreneur for the past 9 years investing in many successful start-ups. This pandemic gave me an urge as an entrepreneur and more importantly as a MOTHER to invest in the health/food sector to make a difference for the Future generations. We instantly joined hands and everything else just fell into place.
Your corporate identity is called MINKAN Any specific reason behind the interesting name MINKAN ?
MINKAN (Min = Fish, Kan = Eye in Tamil)) is a major attribute of Madurai Meenakshi Amman. Me and Vishala both are deeply connected to Madurai and both of us have placed our trust in the Goddess through our most difficult phases in life.. When we both learned about our common belief in the Goddess, we decided to name the venture in her name. Also, MINKAN has an international appeal.
How did you go about it after you decided to invest in this venture?
The main goal is to have our products reach every household, especially the younger generation. Millet Bank has now launched millet cookies in 8 different flavours. The reason for choosing cookies is that it is quite popular amongst all age groups.
How is the response to the products and what are your future plans?
In spite of the lockdown holding us back on logistics we have an amazing response for our cookies. Taste and Nutrition together – we have formulated a perfect blend that has received a roaring response. We at MILLET BANK strongly believe in evolving so we are coming up with health drinks, snacks and baby foods. We will not stop innovating to reach out to our customers.
What Is the kind help are you both are expecting from the society
We expect people to educate themselves about the wonder grain millets and at the same time help us educate the younger generation. We will be glad if people help us spread the word and establish MILLET BANK as a name in every household.
Vishala In Priyanka’s words
She is self made women with determination that can move mountains! She has a deep rooted understanding about farming and has an amazing bond with the farmers and the land. She is committed to what she believes and that makes her special.
Priyanka in Vishala’s words
Her understanding of building an organization from scratch brings immense value. I have to say one thing for sure, “Where I stop she begins…”
….and that’s the line which describes their BOND.
Their BELIEF , their COMMITMENT, their EFFORTS and their SYNERGY is something that catches your attention throughout an interaction. Want to end this article with a quote the duo strongly believes in-
“ WHEN ONE DECIDES, THE WHOLE UNIVERSE CONSPIRES TO HELP ACHIEVE IT ”