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Eco Roots bags Rs 50 lakh grant under Karnataka govt’s Elevate/Idea2POC
Friday, 20 March, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Eco Roots is a start-up that was supported under the Karnataka government’s Elevate/Idea2POC grant-in-aid scheme. Here, the company won the start-up challenge where it bagged the Rs 50 lakh funding.

Taking the assistance from the ICAR-Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad, Eco Roots developed 10 products using millets under the brand name Eco Jivan. They have already taken off in the markets of Hubballi, Dharward and Gadag.

Millets are best suited for the present-day lifestyle diseases. Our 10 products include ragi malt in three flavours, ragi dosa, multi-millet dosa, little millet idli, foxtail millet bisibele bath, upma, khichadi and ragi cookies. 

“It took us about four months to try out different recipes and finalise the products. We were all set for April 1 to move on an aggressive path with the ten products, but following the COVID-19 embargo, we had to postpone the same,” Ravichandra R Banavat, chief executive officer, Eco Roots, told Food and Beverage News.

All these products have undergone wet sampling across Hubbali, Dharwad, Bengaluru, Gadag, Madgaon in Goa and Abu Road in Sirohi district, Rajasthan.

“We found that many leading brands of millets are not that tasty. This was an opportunity for us to grab. We realised that however healthy our products would be, if they were not tasty, they would not be bought by the customer,” he added.

On what led the company to storm into the space of processed food products, Banavat said that it all started with the ICAR-IIMR. The Institute’s Nutrihub Incubation Programme provided the much-needed insights about millets, which further bolstered the opportunity to enter millet field.

Banavat, an engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, got selected for the Union Government’s remunerative approaches for agriculture and allied sector rejuvenation programme at IIMR.

The training given here helped to qualify for the Karnataka elevate grant. With the grant assistance, we are planning to launch our products in four states, reaching out to 400 supermarkets. 

“Much of the grant will be used to also develop different products and millet beverages too that we plan to launch in the next four months,” Banavat said.

Commenting on the current scene for health ingredients, he added that there was an increasing awareness about millets in metro cities. 

“However, in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, there is a need for more product penetration. Still there is a lot more scope for improvement of millet processing,” said Banavat.

A key trend observed in this space is that many multinational companies are entering this field. Many millet-based start-ups have been getting funded by venture capitalists, at least in the last 2-3 years.  

Therefore, a significant growth is envisaged in the coming years. The present Indian consumer is used for rice and wheat, as it is very easy and convenient to cook. Slowly millets are taking the shelf space at Indian home. 

“There is a huge necessity to create widespread awareness about the benefits of millets. But the main challenge we faced was unavailability of labs to test our products. Millets are placed at a higher price as compared to the regular products. It was a problem to convince consumers to buy millet products,” said Banavat.
 
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