Razia Shaikh– Promoting Bastar Food In Chhattisgarh !
Raziya Shaikh is a native of Jagdalpur. After completing her M.Sc. in Microbiology she became the Research Officer at Safe Motherhood Initiative project that was funded by Tata trusts at Ramakrishna Sharda Sewasharam Jagdalpur . Her job was to collect the data on ethnomedicinal plants used by the tribal healers of Bastar district and at the same time she also conducted R&D work on plants, tribal foods and its impact on human life. Being into that job she travelled to the inferior villages of Bastar and studied their food patterns. One fine day when she and one of her colleagues were conducting a training workshop to generate livelihood for women self help group, they got to know about Mahua laddoo and some ladies provided them training to prepare it as well. After that the laddoos were bought to the lab to conduct R&D and help SHG to make a business model. At that time the laddoos were in bad condition to be introduced to the market. By seeing its texture, smell and taste she had also rejected it but she knew that the SHG women’s living were on stake. They were in need of work and had to find a way to make it possible to introduce themselves into the market. After that, she started to work on its properties and studied all the research papers published by the PhD Scholars. She came to know that it is highly nutritious and is the only thing which helps tribal people to be healthy and gives them tremendous energy to work. They started to work on this in the laboratories. After a few modifications, one of her friends took it to Collector Amit Kataria who liked the taste and appreciated the work. He created the buzz on Mahua ladoo. Her journey took a kick start from this point. And, now it has become the Tag of Bastar “ Bastar ka Mahua Ladoo”. Currently 11 women are working in this project, the work is a bit slow but the result is great. It has become a business model at the tribal belt and is providing livelihood to the ladies at their doorstep.
The ladies have now started promoting the laddoos in entire India through mouth to mouth publicity and social media like youtube, Face book, Whatsapp groups and on some events as well . While her journey, she had a great support from her family and they also helped her in every possible way and never stopped her from anything.
Today Mahua Laddoos have become a brand for Bastar Sweets. Not only this, she has received many awards from the State as well as Union Government.