Cookies, barfi and salted snacks made of Kodu-Kutki are available at Bhopal Haat in the city. It is a part of the three-day exhibition-cum-sale 'Hunar Haat' organised by the Woman and Child Development Department of the state government.
The event has been organised to promote the nutri-rich millets grown in the state, besides handloom and handicraft items. All-women SHGs from the state are participating in the Hunar Haat, which began on the International Women's Day.
Kodu-Kutki cookies prepared in desi ghee and butter are in great demand. The desi ghee variety is priced at Rs 400 per kg and the butter at Rs 180 per kg. The cookies are available in three flavours – gur, sugar and salt, says Jameel Khan from Bichhiya, Mandla district.
Jameel is a member of Tejaswini Jagriti Mahila Manch, an SHG with 2,100 women as its members. She says that Kodu-Kutki are the traditional farm products of the tribal-dominated Mandla, Dindori and nearby districts.
According to her, they have decided to produce cookies, namkeen etc of the millets to make them popular. Earlier, only rice, khichdi and kheer of Kodu-Kutki were available. They learned how to make cookies through videos available on YouTube. "Our cookies are quite popular among the tourists visiting the Kanha National Park," she says.
Jameel says that Kodu-Kutki are highly nutritious and very good for pregnant and lactating women. "They also control our blood sugar level," she says.
Rajni Mandi, 48, from Jaitra, Dindori, who is a member of another SHG, has brought cookies and namkeen made of Kodu-Kutki. A 200-gram pack of cookies costs Rs 60-80.
She says due to water-logging and other problems, the farmers had almost stopped growing Kodu-Kutki. Its cultivation, however, revived over the past two-three years due to growing demand.She says that men work the fields while the women take over once the crop is harvested. They process the millets to produce cookies and other eatables. Out of the 3,423 members of the SHG she represents, 1,600 grow Kodu-Kutki while the rest are into farming paddy and other crops. Rajni is also selling cookies of mahua and maize in the exhibition. She managed to sell goods worth Rs 15,000 on the first day.
Rekha Pandram, also from an SHG in Dindori, had visited the UN in 2019 to promote the millets as a solution to food shortage. She says that the demand for the two millets is so high that they are often available to meet it. She said that the machines used for processing the crop are old. "If government provides us modern machines, the production would go up by at least 60%," she says. Rekha has only brought Kodu-Kutki rice which she is selling for Rs 100 per kg. She managed to sell the rice worth Rs 8,000 on the first day.