Different items of fruit candies and pickles made in Myanmar are available aplenty in almost all the local shops of Manipur. However, according to experts, these are not fully safe to consume as the items do not abide by the guidelines laid down by the government’s Food Safety authority.
On the other hand, Manipuris are consuming it as favourite food items without checking whether the ingredients added to the processed fruit items are harmful to human health or not. However, it is generally opined in Manipur that the items imported from Myanmar are not safe to consume.
That is why, people have started understanding the importance of fruit products of Barak Foods, because these are completely safe, natural and no chemical flavour is added at the time of processing. The State Government has the authority to penalise the firm if any untoward incident happens after consuming its products. From this point of view, people of the state need to consume locally processed fruit items only discarding foreign items. It will boost local entrepreneurship and save huge amount of money which are being thrown away to other states and countries.
D Helen Nishi, proprietor of Barak Foods, also appealed to the people of the state to encourage local entrepreneurs during a recent interaction with the Manipur Times.
She collects varieties of luscious seasonal fruits from different hill villages of Senapati to change it into a new taste in the form of pickles and fruit candies. Various fruit candies and pickles made of pineapple, sour apple, gooseberry, plum, ginger, olive, heimang etc are supplied to Senapati Bazar, Imphal, Kohima and other towns.
“The fruit candies and pickles of my industry have even reached USA. Good feedbacks come from there as well”, she said.
How She Kick-Started
D Helen Nishi, 40-year-old wife of Puni hailing from Makhrelui village of Senapati district started her venture of fruit processing in the year 2009. Before it, she participated in a fruit processing training course organised by the District Industries Centre (DIC), Imphal East at the fruit processing training hall located at Porompat. She also took part in the fruit processing training course organised by Meira Foods, Imphal. All these training courses on fruit processing inspired her a lot to set up Barak Foods Industry. She prepares different fruit candies and pickles using raw fruits available aplenty in almost all the hill villages of the state.
Helen Nishi completed graduation from GP Women’s College, Imphal. After graduation, she got married with Puni in 1994 and has now one son and two daughters.
Going Down to Memory Lane
“It is emotional to recall the days of the time gone by how I with my husband struggled for survival. The earning of my husband who is a farmer by profession was not sufficient enough to manage the family. We experienced lots of hardships that we even starved sometimes. Our earning could not afford to medical expenses when our children got ill. I thought many times about how to support my husband in family maintenance. At last, I thought of making fruit pickles and candies using the raw fruits available in the hill villages. Varieties of fruits were collected from the villages and I began making pickles and fruit candies. The ready to eat fruit pickles and candies made by me were sold to the local shops, mainly Senapati Bazar at Rs2 per sachet for the first time. Riding a bicycle, I distributed the items of fruit candies and pickles to the local shops. The Assam Rifles post located at Senapati Bazar purchased my fruit products in plenty. The fruit products manufactured by my firm have been able to reach Kohima and Guwahati. I receive positive feedbacks from there. With customers’ demand increasing day by day, the price of the fruit packets were then increased to Rs5 and Rs10”, she recalled.
The Present Status and Challenges
According to Nishi, her firm now can get a monthly turnover of Rs30,000 from selling various fruit pickles and candies and is providing jobs to atleast nine women of her village. The fruit products of Barak Foods have been displayed during the fairs held at Kolkata, Delhi, Shillong and Manipur Sangai Festival and Saras Fair held at Imphal.
She did not get any support from her husband when she set out for her venture on making various items of fruit pickles and candies on the ground that her business would be futile and profitless.
Despite her husband’s discouraging words and all odds, she started her business. She used to collect fresh fruits from the local village women and began making fruit pickles and candies at her home alone. Under the brand name Barak Foods, her owned made fruit candies and pickles were then distributed to local vendors at the rate of Rs2. Many suggestions and comments were also sought from the food experts on the feasibility to start her food processing business.
In course of time, her business started growing with receiving positive feedbacks. Now the demand is more than the supply. By inducting more woman workers, she has managed to meet the increasing demand. Now she is running her business with the support from all the family members including her husband who was once against her business.