Agri Business

Millet start-ups get a booster shot from Covid-19

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on February 04, 2021

IIMR’s millet incubator sees spurt in applications

Bharat Reddy, a doctor-turned actor, has sought and found a place at the Nutrihub, the technology incubator set up by the Indian Institute of Medical Research (IIMR), during June 2020.

With the Covid-19 prompting consumers go for immunity-boosting millet foods, his start-up Millet Marvels took shape. “The pandemic has increased demand for millet foods. We have started five stores that sell ready-to-eat millet products,” Bharat Reddy told BusinessLine.

Avinashh Foods, a Visakhapatnam-based start-up that is supported by the incubator, is using Blockchain technology in choosing the best cultivars for their raw material.

Support system

Another start-up Warehub is using technology to provide tech-based warehouse solutions to the farmers.

“As the demand surges for millet foods during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, start-ups see a potential in tapping the opportunity. The fact that we received 215 applications during the pandemic period shows the huge interest in this value-added space,” Dayakar Rao, Chief Executive Officer of Nutrihub, and a senior scientist with IIMR, told BusinessLine.

“There is a sharp increase in the number of applications from emerging entrepreneurs, seeking a slot at the institute’s millet incubator Nutrihub,” he said.

Interestingly, the interest is not just confined to the value-added products. “There are proposals from entrepreneurs showing interest in developing IT solutions and services to support the millet ecosystem,” he said.

Set up in 2016, Nutrihub, an exclusive incubator to promote start-ups focusing on millets, received funds from the NIDHI project of the Department of Science and Technology. The incubator built physical space and infrastructure, which includes a manufacturing facility.

It developed various technologies, equipment and laboratory to help start-ups develop new value-added products, according to Vilas Tonapi, Director of ICAR-IIMR.

Besides offering mentoring and giving access to the equipment, the incubator also provides financial aid in the range of ₹5-25 lakh. “We have so far granted an amount of ₹3.4 crore to 40 start-ups in two cohorts,” Dayakar Rao said.

Published on February 04, 2021

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