Pulses and Millet as Carriers of Nutrition

By Dr. Raj Bhandari MD Director of Boutique Foods and Technical Resource for Developing Operational Protocols for Community Management of Acute Malnutrition in India

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Pulses and Millet as Carriers of Nutrition

What started as an endeavour in trying to ensure nutritionally rich diets to my young patients who comprise infants and adolescents as well, gradually became a passion, more so because of lack of knowledge about healthy food options among general population.

This is where 'Boutique Foods' started to take shape as an idea. After extensive research, and interaction with other domain experts in different fora coupled with in-house trials on the use of Millets and pulses (namely Chickpea) as a substitute for commonly used grains we came to the conclusion that Millets and pulses offer a superior Nutrition mix as compared to wheat and rice.

Millets and pulses are naturally endowed with rich mineral and vitamin content, even offering a better quality of protein content. Further research led me to conclude that Millets and pulses not only offered better food value to children but also to people predisposed to life style diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Millets based foods, due to their inherent anti-inflammatory, non-allergenic properties on gut health, have the potential to influence the course of some disease conditions like Ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic dysregulation etc.

This is how we formalised the product range with in-house research and with a great help from Boutique Foods's business incubator- International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, who offered their relentless support in scientific techniques and complete access to their state-of-theart facilities, which led us to bring our products to final stage of manufacturing. Boutique Foods was finally incorporated on 2nd August 2016 with Dr Raj Bhandari as partner and Mentor-in-Chief to other team members.

As on date we have formulated three Products viz Energy Dense Nutritional Food (EDNF), Millet Cookies and Millets intense Flour. We have already filed the final patent application for EDNF, to safeguard our intellectual capital. EDNF is primarily targeted as a support to Government and Corporate interventions to tackle the scourge of Malnutrition among children and pregnant women in our society which is highly prevalent across the country.

EDNF offers Gluten- and Lactose-free energy based nutrition along with the advantage of prebiotics to such groups. Millet intensive Flour and Millet Cookies are targeted as a substantive form of substitute to wheat and rice consumption to general population, helping them manage their life style diseases. These products offer low glycemic index, better quality proteins, slow digesting starch, prebiotic mix, all leading to better quality Nutrition.

At present we are supplying our EDNF and Millet Cookies to ICRISAT's Nutri Basket Project, for supplies to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of Telangana which is being distributed to 5000 children and pregnant women in the Districts of Adilabad and Asifabad, under the Integrated Tribal Development Agency, (ITDA). This is an ongoing project for nine months. The outcome of this project will be of immense value to Boutique Foods as a company. Such cost-effective interventions in Government institutions can be a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

The commercial launch of other two products is also on the anvil. These products should hit the markets by September 2017.

This is just the beginning of a long journey but the large scale validation and the faith in our products shown by organisations like ICRISAT for a prestigious and important intervention like this in the state of Telangana is a very good beginning for our team. We fully understand the road ahead will be full of challenges and uncertainties, but we are geared up to the occasion and shall take it through its logical course i.e. make Millets a mass consumption category of for all consumers leading to higher cultivation of millets that helps in providing healthy and nutritious foods in as much as they protect our environment and soil health giving our farmers a better value for their produce.

(Dr. Raj Bhandari MD (Paed.) is the Director of Boutique Foods and technical resource for developing operational protocols for Community management of Acute Malnutrition in India. Served as Country Coordinator for Palliative Care in Mumbai and technical resource for World Bank, Unicef, Unfpa, DFID, Action against Hunger (ACF), Digital Green among several other research publications.)

Pulses and Millet as Carriers of Nutrition
Pulses and Millet as Carriers of Nutrition
Pulses and Millet as Carriers of Nutrition

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Disclaimer: The opinions or views expressed in this publication are those of the authors or quoted persons. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Global Pulse Confederation or its members.