“Contract farming agreement will be the best way to ensure timely and adequate supply of quality millets,” says Dr P. Sathiya Moorthi, the founder-director of Joule Foods.

The company has roped in 50 acres for contract farming of millets.

“This is only a start. We will need huge quantities of millets to expand our operations,” he said.

Millet cookies

Joules produces millet-based cookies. The start-up company is all set to add value to minor millets, not merely to offer variety, but to helprevive millet cultivation.

The company’s requirement of millets is estimated at 1.5 lakh tonnes a day for its proposed 5 lakh tonne capacity baking unit expected to come up in Vadavalli, on the outskirts of Coimbatore.

“We started small, with production of just 5 kg of cookies a day. The positive response for health-cookies has made up strengthen our capacity further to keep pace with the demand.”

Joule Foods was identified by the PSG Science and Technology Entrepreneurial Park (STEP) for the sanction of funds under STEP’s Seed Fund Support Scheme.

The company received a sanction of Rs 16 lakh and in the first round of funding got 50 per cent of the sum last week from the Managing Trustee of PSG Institutions, Mr L. Gopalakrishnan.

Prices rise

“The price of millet, be it finger (Ragi), pearl (Kambu), little (Samai) or barnyard (Kutharavali), is on the rise. Clean, Grade I Ragi has shot up from Rs 15 a kg to around Rs 19/kg in the last one month; Samai was quoting Rs 35/kg six months back. It now rules at Rs 50/kg.

The pearl millet (Kambu) increased by Rs 2.50 a kg to Rs 19/kg, and the barnyard millet has risen from Rs 38/kg to Rs 50/kg at present,” he said.

He perceives that contract farming would not only ensure the steady flow of quality raw material, but also help arrest the high volatility in price movement.

Through its network of 16 distributors across TN and one in Karnataka, Joule Foods supplies millet-based cookies under the ‘Combo Mimix’ brand.

It has also tied-up with educational institutions and organic sales outlets for marketing the cookies.

(This article was published on July 27, 2012)
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