Hindustan Times, December 1, 2006


While a raging debate continues as to who would contribute to the industrialisation of the state, a local entrepreneur has taken the lead over big daddies of the corporate India and set the ball rolling with a Rs. 7-crore agro-based project. Incidentally, worth investment proposals that were cleared by the State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB), to get a concrete shape.

Demonstrating his commitment of putting up a world class fully automatic processing center for Gorgon Nuts aka Makhana, a unique high-protien-fat free crop grown in north Bihar areas, Satyajit Kumar Singh has envisioned that this product would replace popular snacks like potato chips and corn flakes, at the breakfast table and would also revolutionise the lives of five lakh farmers engaged in the difficult cultivation process.

Interestingly, eight districts of north Bihar account for 90 per cent of the estimated 75,000 ton of its annual world production. Other than India, the unique product is grown in China, Nepal and Bangla Desh and is considered a delicacy. However, the Rs. 500 crore market for makhana is unorganized and formers has no support in solving their agronomy-related problems.

Thus was born—White Ball Revolution—a project initiative by Shakti Sudha. The two-part project is providing backward linkage with industry to offer input services, including finance and information for increasing production, and above all, buy back their output at prices that would be at least 40 per cent o what they are getting today. Though commodity exchanges are also engaged in the purchase of agricultural produce, Shakti Sudha is providing linkage with banks, input services man making efforts to augment production capacity through rejuvenation and development of new ponds with the help of NABARD.

‘Primary processing i.e. converting guri (Gorgoan seed) into ‘makhana lava’ is a tough job. But, now a mechanical process, with the help of CFTRI, has been developed by the company to do it, ‘said Singh, recently selected as one of the 20 Business Bazigars by Aditya Birla Group. ‘Through this project, we are trying to demonstrate the uniqueness of this crop not only in India but also in Middle East and European market and provide a structured shape to the hitherto unorganized sector’, said Singh and added “the work ha begun even before proposal was submitted to the SIPB in July which passed it in a month’s time.

While setting up of procurement centers in 26 blocks of eight districts of Samastipur, Dharbhanga, Madhubani, Saharsa, Purnea, Katiar, Araria and Supaul is underway, the plant in Patliputra Industrial Area is likely to be inaugurated by the Nitish Kumar at the month end.