Agri Business

A ‘mixie’ that separates the millet from the chaff

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on January 11, 2018

The millet dehusker jar developed by former engineering professor Sharmila Keerthivasan

Coimbatore-based academic patents home device, hopes to bring down cost of nutritious grains

A former engineering college professor has patented the technology that drives a home device to dehusk minor millets in her quest to make the nutritious grains affordable.

The jar, designed to remove the chaff without breaking the pod within, “can be used like any mixie container,” but should be operated at low speed, says Sharmila Keerthivasan, who is closely associated with Nalla Soru, a team that works for sustainable development.

It can dehusk most varieties of millet, including banyard, foxtail, kodo and proso. “It helps bring down the cost of the millet by half,” said Keerthivasan. “I have been looking to make millets a lot more affordable for the common man.” The huge demand for millets has pushed up their price, she noted.

“There were no takers for these minor millets five-six years back, as they were considered a poor man’s grain, and not many knew how to prepare any delicacy with it,” Keerthivasan said.

“But over time, with Nalla Soru and many other similar agencies highlighting the benefits of millets, it has become fashionable to offer millet-based preparations at weddings, hotels and so on,” she pointed out.

Only the chaff-removed grain can be cooked, and there only a few millers who can do it on this scale. The conventional machines are used to mill huge volumes (over 50 kg), not small quantities.

The dehusked millet cannot be stored for long periods (as they are prone to pest infestation), whereas with the husk intact, the shelf-life can be extended by years.

“This equipment helps save money,” said Keerthivasan. “Buy the minor millet with its husk intact and remove the chaff as and when required.”

As for the cost, she said the equipment would come to ₹2,000-2,500 per unit. The jar, if fitted with the improvised blade designed by her, would cost ₹500. “The unit can be used to mill 5-8 kg of grain a day, depending on the size of the jar,” she added.

Keerthivasan is looking to partner with mixie manufacturers for production of the jar on a large scale, and with entrepreneurial youngsters to take the technology forward.

Published on July 28, 2017

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