Deepak Foundation recognised the need to start a collective engagement for women farmers into business mode to improve livelihood and food security. The Foundation under Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana has been working with over 6,000 tribal women farmers in Kawant and Naswadi blocks of Chhota Udepur district of Gujarat. After training them for sustainable agriculture techniques, 300 women’s Farmers Producer Groups formed under this project were collectivized into two Farmer Producer Companies.
With the objective of creating value addition systems through food processing for these women, reducing drudgery and ensuring food security, the Foundation conceptualized an innovative product and a model. This is a business model of FPG operated processing units to prepare a culturally acceptable “Instant Khichdi Mix” using locally grown pulses, rice and vegetable enriched with spices and mineral mix as a nutritious meal supplement. Livelihood opportunity for nearly 3000 women farmers will be created within a period of coming two years. Pre-mix khichdi will help overcome under-nutrition in entire family and will reduce drudgery and save fuel. The pre-mix could also be procured by the Govt. to supply as mid-day meals in school and pre-school and PDS shops.
The concept won the prestigious Millennium Alliance Round IV innovation award and a grant for product development. A. D. Patel Institute of Technology, Anand was roped in to develop the product, and M. S. University of Baroda’s Foods & Nutrition dept. will be roped in for sensory evaluation and nutrition assessment. Deepak Group of Industries pitched in for setting up the first plant at Naswadi. The product now branded as “De India Express” Instant Khichdi is ready to be launched in the market.