BANGALORE: From Srirangapatna to Europe, it has been a long and difficult journey for 42-year-old Chayaa Nanjappa. But she has battled the odds and today heads a rural enterprise which produces high-quality honey that sweetens many a home even in Europe and the United States.
As a reward for her hard work, Chayaa was on Monday awarded this year’s ‘National Best Entrepreneur Award’ in food processing by the Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs of India.
Her path to success has not been a smooth one; she had to overcome many an adversity, physical abuse and traumatic relationships. But now, this gentle, self-made woman provides a livelihood for not only many illiterates of Mysore and Mandya districts, but also some tribals across the state. She is also the largest buyer of forest honey from Malayalis and tribes like Siddis and Jenu Kurubas.
She began her journey by setting up a small unit at Bommanahalli with the help of a `10-lakh loan. She then shifted operations to Nanjangud and later, to Srirangapatna.
Today her enterprise Nectar Fresh, which produces monofloral honey, has a capacity of 200 tonnes and is worth `6 crore. It is one of the largest bulk suppliers and packers of honey in the country and falls in the top five bulk exporters of raw as well as processed honey. Nectar Fresh also has the ISO 22000:2005 certification.
Chayaa told Express, “With no work experience or exposure, I started a rural industry in 2007 that could be identified with my hometown, Coorg. After doing a basic course from Central Bee Research and Training Institute (CBRTI), I jumped into the industry completely, sourcing honey from tribes and farmers.” She has 20 mobile apiary vans across the country.
To earn her brand a significant international presence, she decided to market it as a basket of products, including jams and sauces. The result: it found a place in the European market. “I added jams and sauces to my basket by purchasing pulp from sick units run by women in places like Bangalore and Mangalore, and sourcing fruits like papaya and tomato directly from farmers,” she said.
With exports to Germany and France, Nectar Fresh has broken the monopoly of global companies like Bereenberg, Darbo and Bonne Maman. “We met the stringent standards necessary for approval to export to Germany and made a strong impact by packaging our honey and jam in polypropylene sachets for high quality and shelf life. The European competitors feel threatened by our presence,” said Chayaa, who is now busy tying up with a Saudi Arabian company for the production of jams from dates.
She credited the Karnataka Village Industries Board (KVIB), CBRTI, the Horticulture Department, the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Le Meridien, ITC Foods and a host of others who supported her. “Any small and marginal farmer in Karnataka producing quality honey can contact me. My sole aim is to promote rural products and help women in distress by providing employment opportunities,” she said.