Andhra Pradesh born K V Rama Subba Reddy quit his corporate job in Delhi to return to his village and start two businesses to promote healthy living with millet dishes.
Even as he worked in the corporate field for 28 years as a cost accountant, K V Rama Subba Reddy from Andhra Pradesh’s Nandyal district had always dreamt of spending time farming in his quaint village.
“Almost all members of my family are farmers who concentrate on traditional methods of agriculture. While some are involved in producing grains, others grow fruits and vegetables. In 2013, as a part of planning for retirement, I put together a horticulture farm in my village with the help of my brothers, who are experienced farmers,” says Reddy.
While working his accountant job, Reddy was living in Delhi and would manage his farm whenever he visited his village. When he was away, his brothers took charge.
“Even though I had been interested in farming since childhood, after setting up the farm, I felt that traditional methods are not effective in the present time. Exploitation by middlemen and excessive use of fertilisers are contributing to the misery of farmers,” he opines.
Keeping this thought as a base, he decided to quit his well-paying career and comfortable city life to become a full-time ‘modern farmer’ in 2017.
Versatile and healthy
In 2017, Reddy bought 20 acres of land near his horticulture farm to start millet cultivation.
“There are several reasons I chose millets. One was nostalgia — my mother would prepare several dishes with various millet varieties. Second, millets are highly resistant to pest attacks and therefore do not require chemical fertilisers or pesticides to get a good harvest. Moreover, I was greatly inspired by the works of Dr Khader Vali – the millet man of India,” explains the 54-year-old.
Hailing from the same state, Dr Khader Vali is known for his relentless efforts in the past 20 years in reviving five positive millets.
Apart from growing millets and following traditional farming techniques, Reddy decided to set up a millet processing factory and an agro company to make value-added products using the harvest. This way, he intended to spread knowledge about the health benefits of millet and make them available all over the country.
In 2018, Reddy put together Renadu and Mibbles, two brands, one for selling whole grains and another for readymade food products made out of millet. “The turnover of both the brands is around Rs 1.7 crore as per last year. I am hoping to double it this year,” says the owner.
In addition to collecting the harvest from his 60-acre farm, he tied up with around 20 millet farmers of the state and purchased their produce for a rate fixed at the time of sowing.
“As no middlemen are involved in the dealing, farmers get a fair price, which is at least 30 per cent higher than the regular price they receive,” he says.
While the business slowly picked up in two years, the pandemic-induced lockdown brought things to a hold, says the owner.
“But this worked well for us, as we used this period to introduce new items to our ready-to-eat store including millet ladoo, murukku, biscuits and mixture — all gluten and sugar-free. My wife and mother are the ones behind the recipes and I hope this motivates people to add more millet to their daily diet,” he says.
Two years ago, Reddy tied up with Apollo hospitals to supply millets to make nutritional diets for patients, he says.
To build a healthy nation
Among the millet farmers of the state, Reddy is better known as the ‘millet man’.
“The other major products of my company are whole grains, idli rawa, upma rawa, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, brown top millet, kodo millet, sorghum millet and more. The price starts from Rs 80 and goes up to Rs 800 for combo packs,” he informs.
All the products are available for sale on their official websites and e-commerce platforms including Amazon, Indiamart, as well as food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy. Additionally, the products are sold in their two stores in Hyderabad and Nandyal. The products are delivered across India.
“Around 20 per cent of the millet production of the world is from India. But most of us are unaware of the health benefits of these varieties. Several studies show that it is even capable of preventing deadly diseases. With 2023 being declared as the year of millets by the UN, I have high hopes that the demand and awareness of millets will increase globally. I plan to launch the brands internationally in the coming year,” he says.
This year, Reddy received the award for the ‘Best Progressive Farmer’ from ANGRAU- RARS Nandyal, as well as the ‘Best Startup Farmers Connect’ Award from ICAR-IIMR in Hyderabad for large-scale millet production and supply across the country.
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Edited by Divya Sethu; Photo credits: Facebook/Mibbles, K V Rama Subba Reddy