Amrakuchi (Keshpur), Feb. 7: The often violence-ridden Keshpur in West Midnapore has thrown up something inspirational, thanks to a group of women.
Twenty women workers of two self-help groups in this village have come up with a cereal mix for children, which they call “nutrimix”.
The district administration now wants to improve on the mix for babies by adding sugar and preservatives. It also plans to apply for a patent for the desi baby food to take on the more expensive brands in the market.
The groups — Amartya Sen and Nazrul — had embarked on a very humble mission of manufacturing a nutritious mix for the 500-odd babies in the village and had a production target of 1,000 kg a month.
The product, which is sold at Rs 10 per kilo, is a tremendous hit in villages across Keshpur and its demand is rising every day, said block development officer Rahul Majumdar.
“Now we feel the need to take the product one step ahead by improving its taste and evolving its packaging to approach a wider market,” Majumdar added.
“Every kilo of nutrimix contains 800 grams of wheat and 200 grams of moong dal. The grains are first washed and slightly roasted, then ground into a powder and mixed,” Majumdar said. Mothers either add warm water, or milk and sugar to the mix and feed children to wean them from breast milk. The villagers readily accepted the cereal as the ones available in the market were too expensive for them.
“The product has virtually changed the economy of the village as more and more farmers are trying to cultivate wheat and moong dal as they are not getting fair price for paddy,” said the CPM’s Keshpur chief, Entaj Ali.
In the run-up to the Assembly polls in 2001, Keshpur had witnessed 75 deaths. Hundreds were forced to flee homes as violence raged between the CPM and the Trinamul Congress.