Tokala Sridevi, a resident of Vinayakanagar, Nizamabad district is from an orthodox Brahmin family. It was the need to earn money to help her family that made her decide to supply some traditional, nutrition-rich foods to the nearby supermarkets at a decent price. She has her own formula of health powders made by mixing millets and pulses. The concept grabbed so much of attention that she started a small firm in the name of ‘Sri Datta Nutrition’.
It was in 2006 when Tokala Sridevi started her business with Rs 40 as investment. “I am a house-wife. Mine is a middle-class family. I got married to a traditional person. I started making health food for supporting my family. When I sold my product to a supermarket for the first time, I got Rs 70 as my profit. I invested the profit again. Later, I started preparing small packets and added a label of my address along with phone number for feedback from the customers. These packets reached experts at National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Andhra Pradesh Productivity Council (APPC) who became my customers,” said Sridevi.
“In 2011, I got introduced to Palle Srujana, an organisation that helped me move forward and reach heights. I was going at snail’s pace until then. Palle Srujana became my foundation to meet people like Ganesham (72-year-old), a military brigadier. I was inspired by him. I was 36-year-old then. He used to help others by making them learn nutrition food preparation process. I thought that I can do the same. I was selling my products in the name of Datta.
But, I didn’t have the capacity to take patent rights. I didn’t hand over it to marketing people as I wasn’t financially settled then. With the encouragement from Palle Velugu, I started doing Entrepreneur Development Training (EDT), and training from National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) and Transfer of Technology (TOT),” she added.
She further said, “In 2013, I was recognised as grass root innovator by ‘Palle Velugu’. I started teaching people of villages on nutrition values. I wanted my products to reach rural areas. Their financial status wouldn’t help them to go for expensive products as they live on daily wages of about Rs 200. They can’t purchase Kaju, Badam or Carrot. I wanted to give them raagi malt, the traditional food.”
The specialty of her nutrition food is that it uses millets and is free from chemicals. “I don't use preservatives. I didn’t grow financially because I never thought of doing it as a business. My aim is to make this available for rural people. I don’t want rural people to suffer from malnutrition.”
On the number of villages that she took her concept to, she shared, “In 36 mandals of Nizamabad, I gave a demo to Centre for Bharatiya Marketing Development and NIRD. I trained Self Help Groups (SHGs). I taught in 46 Mandals through Mahila Samaikya (MMS) taking honorarium. At a few places, they used to give me only travel expenses.”
These millets are good for even pregnant women. she explained, “If you take foxtail millets, jowar, black gram in equal proportions, clean with water and keep it to dry. Once dried, roast the millets and black gram separately till there isn’t any moisture left and mix together and make it into powder. For one kg of this add 500 gms of powdered jaggary or sugar. If someone is financially sound, they can mix badam or walnut powder. This recipe helps many pregnant women to have healthy children.”
Another recipe is for gym goers. “Black gram, horse gram, jowar, and green gram should be taken in equal proportions and cleaned and fried until there is no moisture. The mixture should be added with kaju and badam powder. I make laddus out of the mixture by adding ghee. This will reap results in 15 days. If anyone eats three laddus a day, their weight can be increased. It gives strength to the body. I created my recipes by experimenting. I haven’t learnt them from anyone. I also have recipes for those who want to lose weight,” she revealed.