KOCHI: What started as an initiative to promote ‘safe food habits’ among Keralites has today transformed into a business venture that is helping farmers in Wayanad turn their lives around. Now, Baza Agro Food Products, formed by seven farmers from Bamboo Heritage Village at Thrikkaipetta at Meppadi grama panchayat in Wayanad, is all set to launch an array of organic bakery products made using bamboo rice and shoots during the bamboo festival which gets under way here on Friday.
“It all began with the jackfruit festival held in 2006 at Meppadi. The success of the festival and other similar fests held across the state prompted us to explore the possibility of using other locally-grown produce to make food products,” said Baburaj M, one of the directors of the collective. “That was how we came up with the idea of making bakery products using organically grown produce. In our market research, we found almost everyone bought bakery products, despite knowing about the harmful effects of ingredients used to prepare them,” said Baburaj. He said the collective aimed at coming up with something that would benefit consumers as well as farmers.
“Farmers are facing several adversities, including low yield due to adverse weather and natural calamities, besides poor prices. Converting their produce into value-added products is the only way to help them,” he said, adding that it will also save them from getting duped by middlemen. Baburaj said the bakery products are made using bamboo rice and shoots, millets, wheat and other organically-grown cereals and vegetables.
“We have ‘kanthari’ biscuits made using wheat flour and bird’s eye chilli. The other flavours include ginger, pepper and curry leaf biscuits and cookies,” he said. Depending solely on bamboo rice had its limitations, said Baburaj. “Availability is a major issue. A bamboo flowers between ages 34 and 40, and the flowering lasts for a short span. So, once an entire clump of bamboo flowers, farmers will have to wait for a long period to collect the grains again,” he said. “However, bamboo shoots can be used as replacement as they are available throughout the year,” he said.
Bamboo fest from tomorrow
Kochi: The 16th edition of Kerala Bamboo Fest, organised by the state Industries and Commerce Department in association with Kerala State Bamboo Mission (KSBM), will get under way at Marine Drive ground here from Friday. The five-day fest will see artisans and craftsmen from the country’s bamboo sector displaying their unique creations.