Healthy start: This Delhi entrepreneur makes complementary foods for babies using millets, traditional recipes 

There is no sugar, milk powder or preservatives in the products manufactured by Arvind Singh’s company

By Dakshiani Palicha
Published: Sunday 29 January 2023

Arvind Singh
After their son was born in August 2020, Delhi resident Arvind Singh and his wife began researching on suitable complementary food for him.

“Complementary foods are usually ready-to-eat cereal-based porridges or semi-solid foods, given to children between the age of six and 24 months old, to complement their need for nutrition that starts to exceed what is provided by breast milk. Several brands in the country offer complementary foods. However, we found that products by most brands constitute more of milk powder than cereals,” claims Singh.

This gap in the complementary food space prompted Singh to experiment with baby food recipes. His educational background in public health and nutrition and his experience of working with several non-profits on child nutrition aided his research and trials.

Just a month prior to his son’s birth, Singh had launched a company, Pushtikar Udyog, for retail marketing of organically grown millets and jaggery, procured from farmer-producer organisations (FPOs) in Karnataka and Uttarakhand, and dry fruits from an FPO in Kashmir. He decided to work on products based on millets that come loaded with nutritional benefits for a growing child.

More than two years later, in 2022, Pushtikar Udyog introduced ready-to-eat food for infants under the label ‘NUoMI’, which stands for ‘nourishment of millets’. “We have four khichdis and eight porridges under the label. The products are prepared at our facility in Delhi,” says Singh.

He adds that as the aim behind the products was to help infants’ intake of millets, no other processed ingredients are added. “For instance, there is no sugar or milk powder in the porridges. However, given that children usually prefer sweeter food, we have added organic jaggery to provide a natural flavour. Similarly, our khichdis also contain organic dry fruits and pulses,” says Singh.

The porridges also do not have any preservatives and are made to order, he says, adding that while preparing them, the millets are roasted to improve their shelf life, which is about six months to a year.

Once the products were made, Singh and his team distributed samples to several parents, including those who had children older than 24 months. “The aim was not just to market our product, but also to spread awareness on millet consumption and its benefits. During our research, we realised that despite efforts by the governments and several non-profits to promote millet cultivation and consumption, very little is known about them among the public,” he says.

Mahi, a resident of Delhi, has been buying NUoMI’s ragi and kodo millet products for her son for over a year.

“Doctors and healthcare workers have advised us about providing millets for nutrition. Compared to other brands that we tried, NUoMI provided a better taste that both my son and I liked,” she says. “Since he started eating these millets, my son has gained some strength and is of a healthier weight,” she adds.

While currently, Pushtikar Udyog’s products are available in the National Capital Region, the company plans to expand to other parts of the country soon, says Singh.

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This was first published in the 16-31 January, 2023 print edition of Down To Earth

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