Photo credit: Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana/ YouTube video screengrab
Photo credit: Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana/ YouTube video screengrab

On Friday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a press conference, announcing the third tranche of the economic relief package, covering agriculture. She announced that the government would create a Rs 10,000 crore in a cluster-based approach for food enterprises.

This is one of the initiatives in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's idea of being "vocal for local", Sitharaman said. As the Finance Minister said, unorganised Micro Food Enterprises units need technical upgradation to attain FSSAI food standards, build brands and marketing. To this end, such companies would be supported by the government.

"Local value-added products can reach out to the global market by creating global standards. We will help them market their products. Products include health products, alternatives for healthy living, nutritional products, etc. We expect two lakh micro food manufacturing enterprises to benefit from this," Sitharaman said.

Explaining the cluster-based approach, she cited examples including turmeric in Telangana, makhana in Bihar mango in Uttar Pradesh and so on.

Which brings us to the topic of this article. What is makhana?

A popular snack in some parts of the country, makhana is also known as fox nut, gorgon nuts and more scientifically, as Euryale ferox. It is often used in Indian recipes such as kheer, and can also be eaten as a snack.

The plant incidentally is native to eastern and southern Asia and can be found in abundance in several districts of Bihar. Reports suggest that Bihar produces most of the world's makhana supplies. The seeds of the water plant are often roasted or fried to be eaten as a snack. Visually, they bear a slight resemblance to popcorn, and is believes to be a healthy snack with low levels of cholesterol, fat and sodium.

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