Former banker turned woman entrepreneur, Ambika Somasundaram started Kariat Dry Foods to sell healthy flours made using millets, moringa, jackfruit, tapioca, banana, and more.
After working in the banking sector for 17 years, Ambika Somasundaram of Trissur district quit her job to begin her business journey. Her motive was not simply profit. She wanted to lend a helping hand to neighbourhood women and local farmers. Also, given the availability of traditional food crops in the hilly area of Marottichal, she did not have to think twice before opting for the dry food business.
The business began with two varieties of products – curry powders and kondattam (sun-dried wafers). Ambika sources spices and other crops directly from farmers in Thrissur, which are then processed in their factory where seven women are employed. “Two years ago, we sold around two tonnes of banana chips, and some of the raw material was leftover. We didn’t want to waste it. The banana was turned into powder form and mixed with rice powder to make puttu podi, which is used to prepare Kerala’s traditional breakfast– puttu (steam cake),” Ambika explains.
This became a success point and the agripreneur experimented the same way with several other food items like carrot, beetroot, jackfruit, jackfruit seed, ragi, corn, green gram, peanut and navara rice. These 10 varieties of puttu podi were sold as combo packs, which had high demand till the coming of the pandemic.
Furthermore, a multi-millet powder is also a star product of the company. It is available in three varieties – Nutri millet, moringa millet and choco millet. Another popular ingredient in Ambika’s factory is moringa (drumstick), which was introduced when they received an order for a customised product. Powder, rice flour and soup mix are made from drumstick leaves.
Kudumbashree, a community organisation of Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) of women in Kerala is the support system of this venture. The majority of the sales are done by Kudumbasree members. In addition to this, the products are sold in Home Shops, Agro Bazaars and Horticorp. Ambika has got customers from different parts of the country as she has attended some exhibitions in Delhi, Surat and Bhubaneswar.
The price of products ranges from Rs 90-200. At present, the company’s average income is Rs 1 lakh per month. “Before the advent of COVID-19, our monthly sales reached around Rs 2 lakh. It fell to less than Rs 50,000 but we are getting better now,” Ambika notes.
Credits: The Better India