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Jorhat trader to employ 100 jobless youths

Guwahati, April 30: A Jorhat-based entrepreneur is planning to employ 100 jobless youths to augment production of a baby food product made from bhim kol, a local variety of plantain, and distribute those to markets beyond Upper Assam.

Three months after coming up with the product, Bhimshakti, from his Na Ali-based factory and selling 5,000 containers of 300gm each, Pradip Borah is now looking to expand to lower Assam and markets outside the state.

“The plan now is to take the product to lower Assam and cities like Calcutta, Delhi and Hyderabad. For this, I will have to augment production and start cultivation of the plantain in over 2,000-bighas in the sapori (sandbar) areas, some 14km off Jorhat town. I plan to engage about 100 youths of the area. However, funds are a constraint as the bank loan of Rs 4.67 lakh that I applied six months back is yet to be sanctioned,” Borah said after launching the product here today.

The entrepreneur had started bhim kol cultivation in over 150 bighas in the Kumalia sapori area. He also collects the raw material from farmers across Jorhat district.

Bhimshakti, certified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, is made after the raw material undergoes a process involving peeling/cutting, deseeding, drying, grinding, heating and packaging. Borah currently has 20 workers in his factory.

“I will be marketing the product through 18 distributors in lower Assam apart from directly supplying the product to pharmacies here,” Borah, who had been trained by the Assam Agricultural University, said.

Lack of adequate machinery is a constraint, as he cannot produce in bulk.

“This increases my cost of production as I have to buy fewer containers in Jorhat at Rs 20 per piece rather than go for bulk purchase at Rs 8 per piece,” he said.

A Majuli-based entrepreneur, Indukalpa Bharali, had come up with a similar product, Bhimvita, 10 years back.

Bhimvita today has a good market in Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Tezpur and Guwahati.

“I procure the raw material from farmers only. Today, I have a monthly requirement of 5,000 containers in Upper Assam itself but owing to shortage of ripe varieties, I can only distribute about 3,000. In Guwahati alone, I sell around 500 containers per month,” Bharali told The Telegraph.

Bhim kol has vital nutritional properties ideal for babies, children and elderly people.