Driving Factors for Makhana

Makhana , fox nut, gorgon nut, lotus seeds; this globally gobbled nutrition powerhouse is known by different names in different countries. Though makhana has traditionally been used in India for nearly 200 years now. This modest India- based nut is now on the global map. Initially attributed to have grown only on the Indian soil. It is now widely cultivated and grown in host of countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia to name a few. 

There are a number of factors that contributed to an exponential increase in demand and hence the supply of makhana. Let us have a look at factors that have driven the demand for makhana. These include:

Global Increase in demand of health-conscious consumers

Consumers are more aware than ever before regarding what food types and combinations to consume. A well-balanced diet including proteins, good fat, vegetables and nuts has become a daily part of most consumers. High educational, more awareness and easy availability of information, along with rising health issues and stress level has led to consumers moving to heathier style of living. This shift includes working two ways. One, improving the healthy eating habits and two, increasing physical activity and reducing a sedentary life style. Makhana or fox nuts are becoming a staple for consumers in numerous countries. They are now a part of everyday life of health-conscious eaters. It is estimated that each year the number of health-conscious food eaters experiences a double-digit growth in different countries. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the demand for makhana is every increasing.

Rise in demand for Gluten Free Food

Gluten is commonly found in a number of grains including wheat, rye, barley, etc. It is also found in common foods including pasta, breads, pizza and cereals.  A gluten-free diet removes all foods that have high gluten.  Certain natural and processed foods have a high gluten which makes it tough for the body to process and digestion. So light food that are not harsh on the body and aids faster digestion and also causing less strain. 

Also, there are a number of health food that are naturally gluten free. These include vegetables, fruits, certain whole grains. Lotus seed or makhana are gluten free and hence a delight for such diet followers. Owing to the benefits that one gets from following a gluten-free food, makhana has been a roaring success and now is termed as a super food. 

Rise in demand for Vegan Food

The eating habits and taste are ever evolving for human beings in all countries. The last few years have been dynamic in terms of changing food and dietary habits. While the term ‘Vegan’ was coined by Donald Watson in the year 1944, however the last decade has seen millions of people moving to a vegan diet. Vegan diet followers do not use any animal product in their daily dietary habits. So, poultry, meat and animal by products like milk, cheese, eggs, curd, honey etc. are eliminated. 

Food like soya, vegetables, and vegetable proteins are consumed. Promoters of vegan diet insist that it is healthy and helps in weight management, also managing lifestyle diseases including blood pressure, diabetes etc.  A number of countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Israel, United Kingdom, and United States have an increasing population of vegans. Australis, China and United Arab Emirates tops the number of vegan diet followers. 

Makhana being a high fiber, low carb, and gluten free nut, is a good choice for all vegan diet followers. No wonder the demand of makhana or fox nut is on the rise across the globe. It is quite popular with different age groups due to its benefits.

Popularity of Snack Foods

There are a number of demographic factors that have led to increasing popularity of snack food items. If one sees, there has been a shift in the way families are structured. Nuclear families, both the partners working and also a number of independent working women, have led to increase in the demand of snacks or other healthy convenient food. Urbanization, higher incomes, have also enabled this shift in consumer behaviour patterns. 

All the above has been a major trigger in the growing popularity of snack food and the whole industry. This combined with the fact that healthy snack food is now considered the closest alternative to replace certain meals like elaborate breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
Lotus seeds or fox nuts have emerged as one of the healthiest snack food option that can be consumed anytime. Makhana with milk is a good breakfast option as it sets the tone for the day and also provides a lot of energy without increasing the blood sugar levels. It is safe for all age groups and also for people suffering from diabetes, blood pressure etc.

Better Farming Techniques

While earlier makhana was grown only in the pond system, now it is being grown in field system also. Better agricultural research and advancement has also helped make the makhana farming more sustainable. Makhana is also being used in inter-cropping and also aligned with aquaculture for better product and also shorter harvest time. Better makhana processing machines, along with quality management have further improved the demand in the whole sale and retail market. More demand from the supply side has further led to increase in the makhana production and also now farmers are able to meet the rising demand. 

Use of Makhana as an alternative cash crop

Makhana is grown in large quantities in India. Infant, India accounts for nearly 90 percent of the total global produce.  A number of agricultural researches conducted by state governments, along with the support of the Central governments had led to a lot of advancement in the way makhana is cultivated, grown and harvested. One of the biggest reasons for the ever-increasing interest in the production of makhana is the fact that it is now considered as a very good alternative to other cash crops such as corn, soya etc. Makhana has moved much beyond use for self and is now highly grown for its commercial value.