District Madhubani occupies the highest share in the total production of Makhana pop. It is estimated that the production of pop in the district is around 3500 MT and it holds a share of 20% followed by Katihar which accounts for 18% of the total production of the state. Since Makhana is a Cash crop, it is exported from Bihar to different parts of India and even outside of the country.
Cultivation of Makhana is highly cumbersome, labour intensive and involve human drudgery while sweeping bottom of the water body for seed collection. It is followed by processing of raw seeds, which is equally a pain taking activity. Fishermen community belonging to the weaker section of the society is mainly involved in Makhana sector. The fishermen/fisherwomen community of Madhubani have expertise in Makhana cultivation, like fish farming, since it is cultivated in water bodies like ponds and lakes etc. No other community is known to have this expertise in the area and elsewhere. It is, therefore, their exclusive occupation as well as exclusive right, acknowledged by even government. The settlement of ponds with fisheries cooperative is done for both fish and Makhana.
Like fish farming, Makhana cultivation is also highly technical. Makhana (Fox Nut) is a very valuable cash crop of Bihar, more particularly in the Mithila region. It is a priced delicacy with very high market demand in both national and International market fetching a very lucrative price. The processing of Makhana crop is done only by the fisherwomen since ages. It is also a capital-intensive product just like fish. The fisher community depends on the merchants from cities for providing the advance for investment but in the process the merchant decides the rate of the product and it is usually Rs. 200-300/ less than the market price. The fisher community is also forced to dispose the finished product immediately as they do not have any storage space. Now the fisher community works almost like wage labourers in makhana production. Makhana production though capital and labour intensive, can be highly profitable to the fisher community provided it is able to control the market forces that have been totally taken over by the middlemen. However, absence of Industries and unemployment has led to considerabe out migration of local wokforce to other states. On an average, a processor’s family does processing of 40-50kg of makhana seeds in a day and earns an income of Rs. 160-200 per dayor Rs. 4-6 kg of seds processed.
Sakhi realised the issues around Makhana cultivation and its processing and marketing and hence intervened through its Project in collaboration with Central Government under SFURTI Scheme, Scheme of Fund for Regenaration of Traditional Industries under Ministry of Micro, Small &medium Enterprise called “ Makhana Processing and Value Addition Cluster(Madhubani,Bihar).
The objectives are:
- To provide processing facility for better economic economic gain
- Provide Technology esas to the Beneficiaries as they are using conventional methods only.
- Marketing platform for the Beneficiaries as middle man is taking most of the profits.
The project intervention is planned at two levels namely Soft intervention and Hard Intervention.
The Soft Intervention includes following:
- Soft skill training- Technical skill Development, hands – on Training, Exposure visit
- Capacity Buildig- General Awareness, counselling & Trust Building, Seminars, workshops, training programs on technology upgradadtin etc.
- Market Promotion- Establishment of website, Printing of poster and hoarding, Online Marketing, branding, Bar coding, ISO etc.
- Registration on E-commerce sites
- Design and product Development- New Innovative consumer oriented Designs development. Hard Intervention :
This includes the Plant and machinery to be set up:
a) Makhana cleaning
c) Popping machine
d) Packaging machine
e) Flavouring machine
f) Powdering (pulveriser)
h) Nitrogen plant
i) Testing lab equipment
The project is an ambitious one projected at the benefit of the Local farmers by increasing the production and giving them an open platform to upgrade their income opportunities and so the Community is Enthusiastic to take up the challenge and contribute in developing their cluster which will be a total boost for all in the Region.