Sweet Honey Taste of Success
By Meera Bhardwaj | Published: 01st November 2014 10:00 PM |
Chayaa Nanjappa’s eyes sparkle with excitement as she talks about her enterprise Nectar Fresh and how it all started. “I started a rural industry in 2007 that could be identified with my hometown Coorg, which was once known for honey,” she says. It was a difficult period in her life as she tried to come to terms with a failed marriage and her father’s demise. Undeterred by her lack of exposure or experience, she enrolled into a basic course at the Central Bee Research and Training Institute. “I got into this venture sourcing honey from tribes like Siddhis, Jenu Kurubas, etc and farmers from different states,” she says.
Today, her company is one of the largest bulk suppliers and packers of quality honey in India and one of the top five suppliers and exporter of bulk, raw honey as well as processed honey. The 42-year-old entrepreneur was recently awarded the National Best Entrepreneur Award in food processing by the Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs of India.
And it is not just the brave origins that make hers an inspiring tale. Her journey—from Srirangapatna to Germany—breaking the monopoly of the European companies is no mean feat either.
Chayaa started a small unit at Bommanahalli with a `10 lakh loan for supplying honey to the local markets. Then she shifted out to Nanjangud and eventually to Srirangapatna, where Nectar Fresh is a `6 crore, 200-tonne capacity venture that produces the best and pure mono-floral honey.
“With 20 mobile apiary vans stationed across Bihar, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and other states, now I get the purest, single flower, totally pesticide free honey from these regions as farmers here do not use pesticides and grow a vast quantity of litchi, cajanus, clover, tur dal, jamun, acacia and wild thyme on 80-100 acre farms for honey collection,” she explains.
To give the brand a significant international presence, she has now diversified into marketing Nectar Fresh as a basket of products that includes jams and sauces, garnering significant attention in Europe. “I have added jams and sauces to my basket by purchasing pulp from sick units run by women in Bangalore, Mangalore, etc, and sourcing fruits like papaya, tomato directly from the farmers.”
With steady exports to Germany and France, this Khadi-and-Village Industries Board (KVIB) backed rural enterprise from Karnataka has broken the monopoly of global companies such as Bereenberg, Darbo and Bonne Maman. “We meet the stringent QSI standards necessary for approval for exports to Germany. We have made a strong impact by packaging our honey and jams in polypropylene blisters or sachets for high quality and better shelf life and our European competitors feel threatened by our presence,” she shares.
“This month, the Japanese came and inspected our unit as we are tying up with them for production of carrot jams,” she says. Chayaa recently added coffee to her production kitty as well. She picks and selects the best seeds from the tribal belt of Chikmagalur and Kodagu.
Though Chayaa thanks many who helped her, she specifically cites the support of K M Rajappa. “I needed a business partner to safeguard myself and my enterprise. Rajappa, a relative from my mother’s side, is a pillar of strength in managing people and helping us meet deadlines.”
She is currently tying up with a Gulf-based company for production of jams while busy extending her unit by putting in evaporators and homogenizers to process 24 tonnes of dates that has already arrived from Saudi Arabia. Her next venture is setting up a Khadi Bhandar for selling rural products with longer shelf life like pickles, sauces, papads, and also craft items. The KVIB is providing subsidy for this unique rural food and craft court. “My sole aim is to promote rural products and help women in distress by providing jobs and platform for their products. Today, the best quality and biggest brands are produced and packed in our unit,” she says.