Marketing of Makhana

Makhana or lotus seeds need no introduction.  Also known as Euryale ferox, this nutritious aquatic crop belongs to the family of Nympheace. Other popular names also include gorgon nut or fox nut. 

Makhana seed are normally grown in pond system which includes stagnant perennial water bodies , certain land depressions, swamps and ditches. Which growing makhana was traditionally done in the pond system, but now, in the last few years, makhana production has risen thanks to the alternative of the field system. Under this system, large agricultural fields are used which have water one to two feet in depth. It is a better method and does not involve too much health issues, drudgery to the fisherman community, extensively involved in the pond system of cultivation. 

 India is the leading cultivator, processor and producer of this commercially grown crop. Out of which the eastern state of Bihar is known to boast of nearly 85% of the total world production. Other states including Assam, and Manipur, where the climatic conditions are also favorable for the growth of the crop.  

Major Districts in Bihar

Districts including Madhubani, Darbhanga, Katihar and Purnia are the leading producers of makhana. The traditional cultivation method of the pond system is very cumbersome, is labour intensive. Majorly the local fishermen community from the economically weaker sections of the society are engaged in the makhana sector. Now with the field system, the efficiency of seed processing has experienced a growth of 35%.

Makhana Marketing Channels

Channel One: Farmer > Local Aggregator > Processor > Wholesaler > Retailer > Consumer

Channel Two: Farmer > Processor > Wholesaler > Retailer > Consumer

Channel Three: Farmer cum processor > Retailer > Consumer

The above marketing channels are some of the popular mechanisms that makhana farmers make use of to sell the produce. Different marketing channels have different efficiency levels and thus different profit margins for the farmers. Mostly, the smaller the chain, the higher the profit and the less time is consumed to reach to the customers. There has been a concentrated effort to remove inefficiencies in the makhana marketing channels so that for increasing the revenue receipts for all stakeholders involved in the value chain. 

With the increase in the number of intermediaries in the marketing channel, the efficiency of channel decreases. There are cases where farmers do not have the ownership of the ponds, hence it acts as a major constraint for production of makhana. 

Another factor is the lack of makhana processing machinery  & equipment, which necessitates the role of human labour in the makhana processing procedure.

Steps to increase efficiencies in the marketing channel

There are a number of steps that stakeholders including the private players, farmers, governmental organizations can take to improve the efficiencies. 

 Mechanizing the makhana processing  is one of the ways that will improve the quality and also time taken to have finished makhana

 Proper grading of makhana   will further ensure proper quality of makhana which will in turn fetch better prices for all stakeholders within the supply chain.

 Geographical Indication (GI) registration, this will ensure better protection to manufacturers in India.

 Focus on branding of makhanapop and other value added products of makhana, combined with suitable advertising would improve the visibility of the product, create more trust with the end consumers and hence act as a pull factor the demand for makhana and its value added products

Makhana Packaging

Packaging of a product plays an important role in creatine a favourable perception in the minds of the end consumers. A decade ago, makhana manufacturers did not focus so much on the packaging of makhana and used rudimentary style of packaging in the all the clusters. This in turn, negatively impacted the quality, grade and price of the final product.  Earlier on, makhana was simply packed in smaller polythene bags for sale in the retail markets and in gunny bags for sale in the wholesale markets. Makhana gunny bags could accommodate upto 10 kgs. With change in the packaging methods and a vast improvement for supply to both retail as well wholesale segment, makhana producers can now fetch much better prices. ON the consumer end, good packaging has also helped instill confidence in the product as all FSSAI guidelines are also listed on the packaging label.

Packing for wholesale marketing :

In the final stage, makhana or lotus seeds are packed in gunny bags with different weighing capacities. These can be in the packaging of  eight kgs, ten and twelve kgs. While makhana is produced and packed in various districts of Bihar, it has to be transported to far off placed whole sale markets of makhana including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh etc. It is important to have a sturdy packaging so that the quality of the final product is not impacted during transport. 

Packing for retail marketing :

These days makhana is packed in attractive plastic bags that are moisture proof to maintain the freshness of the product. Initially the entire packing process was done manually including grading, filling in bags, weighing, packing etc. However, now hand operated packing machines are being increasingly used by local wholesalers of the clusters for packing and sealing of the Makhana  in different sizes. Special packaging with correct labelling that is accepted in different countries is also important for export purposes. Different countries have different guidelines for all food products. These is now a huge focus on customizing the retail packaging to meet the food and safety standards of these countries.