Makhana, the unassuming fox nut, has stepped into the limelight as India's latest superfood. With the recent Geographical Indication (GI) tag bestowed upon Mithila Makhana, its journey from local delicacy to global sensation is well underway. In this article we have tried to explore the promising prospects of Makhana for international buyers and sheds light on the exciting developments in Bihar's Makhana industry.
A Thriving Tradition in the Mithila Region
In the Mithila region of Bihar, generations of farmers have nurtured the Makhana crop, oblivious to the newfound international excitement surrounding their produce. Their daily routine involves wading through muddy village ponds, collecting Makhana seeds from the thorny leaves, and diving bare-bodied into the water to retrieve these treasures.
However, recent changes are beginning to ripple through this age-old tradition. For the first time in years, prices for Makhana fell by nearly 50 percent during the summer, introducing farmers to the concept of market volatility.
Bihar's Makhana Revolution
Despite these challenges, Bihar is witnessing the birth of a Makhana revolution. The Research Centre for Makhana, based in Darbhanga, is on the verge of releasing a high-yield Makhana variety, building on the success of the Swarna Vaidehi variety.
Entrepreneurs are leaving high-salaried corporate jobs to explore opportunities in Bihar's burgeoning Makhana industry. Manish Anand, CEO of Mithila Naturals, proudly states, "I take pride in bringing the finest quality of this gourmet delight from our ponds to your platter."
Nutritional Benefits of Phool Makhana
Phool Makhana is the puffed, white, and crunchy seed of the lotus flower.
Low in Calories, High in Nutrients: Phool Makhana is a low-calorie snack, making it an excellent choice for those looking to manage their weight. Despite being low in calories, it's rich in essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
Rich in Antioxidants: These seeds are packed with antioxidants, such as kaempferol, which help combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Good Source of Protein: Phool Makhana is a vegetarian source of protein, making it an ideal snack for vegetarians and vegans.
High in Fiber: The high fiber content aids in digestion, promotes a feeling of fullness, and supports a healthy gut.
Low in Sodium and Fat: They are naturally low in sodium and fat, making them a heart-healthy choice.
The Rise of Makhana Start-ups
For many entrepreneurs hailing from Bihar, Makhana has been a cherished snack from their childhood. The demand for Makhana has surged dramatically over the past five years, especially during the pandemic. Entrepreneurs are now exploring ways to enhance Makhana's appeal and make it more accessible to urban consumers by introducing flavors like peri peri, cinnamon and cheese, and various herbs.
These enterprising minds are eyeing markets beyond Bihar and are investing in modern infrastructure, including glass-fronted office buildings, while creating hundreds of new jobs.
Makhana's Global Appeal
Makhana's popularity is not limited to India. It has gained recognition as a superfood worldwide, celebrated for its immune-boosting properties and aphrodisiac and spermatogenic qualities. Its name itself, derived from the Sanskrit words for "sacred ritual" and "grain," signifies its historic importance in Hindu rituals.
With its recent GI tag, Makhana joins the esteemed ranks of other Bihar products like Jardalu mango, Katarni rice, Magahi paan, and Muzaffarpur litchi, solidifying its position on the international stage.
A Promising Future for Makhana
Makhana, once limited to the plates of the elite, is now set to become a staple food. It has the potential to be a sunrise industry, poised for exponential growth. Entrepreneurs are vigorously promoting their products through social media campaigns, showcasing various flavours and attractive packaging. The government of India is backing the industry whole heartedly as well. You can read the detailed article here.
The Makhana boom is not only transforming Bihar but is also reaching other regions, like Odisha, where entrepreneurs from Bihar have been invited to cultivate Makhana. The industry is estimated to be worth Rs 3,000 crore, and forecasts predict substantial growth.
As the global market for Makhana expands, it is evident that this humble fox nut is not just a snack; it's a symbol of India's culinary heritage, innovation, and promise. With the support of the government and the unwavering dedication of farmers and entrepreneurs, Makhana is well on its way to becoming a global superfood sensation. As international buyers explore this nutritious and versatile food, they embark on a flavourful journey that transcends borders and promises a healthier, more sustainable future.