As soon as it is mentioned, fewer solutions and more problems come to the fore. Whether it is related to the environment or our health. It is a bit difficult to find a solution to these problems by connecting with nature, but Pooja Dubey of Indore has made this difficult task easy with ‘BETI’.
Pooja started Biotech Era Transforming India (BETI) in the year 2017 to fight malnutrition and pollution. With the help of which she is working on innovative ideas related to health by cultivating mushrooms. Pooja, who has had knowledge in this field for more than 15 years, never wanted to limit her work to the pages of research.
Mushrooms become a solution to malnutrition and pollution
Pooja and her husband Pradeep were watching their daughter grow up amidst air pollution. One of the major reasons behind air pollution is the pollution caused by Parali in winter every year. Pooja says that now every year we see people getting troubled by the smoke coming from the Parali. Government pollution and farmers are troubled by Parali. We understand both problems very well and wanted to find a solution in between. I have been doing research on different things for a long time. I knew very well that the solution to both these things could mushroom.
Mushroom can be easily cultivated in Parali, as well as it is also very beneficial in fighting Malnutrition. We started vertical cultivation of mushrooms which can be easily included in the diet as well as used in making medicines for various diseases including obesity, sugar and blood pressure. Especially button mushrooms can be used in food. Whereas the medicinal use of oyster mushroom is very high.
Parali packaging model
Puja and Pradeep were now able to deal with the problem of malnutrition and to some extent also with the problem of stubble, but their goal of reducing pollution was still not being fulfilled. The reason was the thermocol packaging being used for their products, but soon they solved this problem as well. “We made a model of packaging from the waste used in mushroom cultivation and the stubble collected by the farmers,” says Pooja.
Referring to this model, she says, “We have replaced thermocol trays and packets used to pack fruits, vegetables, and packaging made from stubble and agro-waste. We have prepared a machine, in which the packing of mushroom mycelium (mould) is prepared in the lab. The special thing is that it is many times lighter in weight than the packaging used in the market and it does not cause any harm to nature. Not only this, after using them, they can also be used as manure in plants and fruits.
Cheap model made for farmers of India
Pooja, who did her PhD in Biotechnology, wanted to help farmers. She says that earlier we had handmade technology, but now we work with the help of machines. We are working on microorganisms using biotechnology. Farmers in developed countries like China have been using this technology for a long time. Along with better technology there, farmers also have a lot of money.
But we have prepared a cheap and effective model for the farmers of India. It takes at least 1 crore rupees to get the same work done abroad, whereas now the farmers of India are able to do it easily with the help of fungus and microorganisms. It is a sustainable and low-cost technology. Pooja has so far trained more than 300 farmers on mushroom cultivation.
Noodles Masala to Pickles made from Mushroom
Pooja tells that the mushroom industry in India has not yet fully grown. Even if some people cultivate it, they are not aware of its processing. That’s why we have made its products along with farming. We have manufactured commercial mushroom spawn (seed) from the laboratory, powder into the direct mushroom product, fresh and dried oyster mushroom and value-added product into spices, pickles and soups.
Lab start from home
Pooja has worked as a researcher in a well-known company in Mumbai. Pooja, who has been a part of this industry for 15 years, says – I always wanted to do work related to nutrition. I quit my job and returned home from Mumbai to Indore. When I came back home, there was talk of taking the family forward in the family.
‘I thought about this a lot and asked my daughter Ira whether she wants a brother or a sister? Ira’s answer to this was- Sister. I gave a sister to my daughter, through my startup ‘BETI’. I converted the ground floor of the house into a lab and ‘Beti’ started. Pooja did not want to limit her research to paper and lab only. She has given training to more than 300 farmers and many researchers till now.
Prepared Noodles Masala Substitute
Talking about her new achievement, Pooja says, “We have created a desi and healthy version like Maggi Masala. Children have a habit of fast food, but it is very harmful to their health. That’s why we have prepared a seasoning from mushrooms and drumstick leaves called Sum-Mor ready for noodles and pasta.
Tastes of this wholly same as noodles masala, this masala is made from mushrooms and moringa powder. Both come in superfood and are very beneficial for health. It is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Iron. Mushroom is rich in Ajinomoto, it is also used in Maggi masala. Mushroom is its natural supplement and children like it very much.
How do you prepare to package?
We first use agricultural waste in mushroom cultivation. This is followed by microbial treatment. Due to which the material becomes soft. The processing then begins in which the paste is poured into a mould to give it shape and texture. The packets removed from the mould are dried in solar and oven. So that there is no moisture in it. At present, the BETI’s team is preparing these eco-friendly bags by hand.
Pooja wants to take this model to as many people as possible. This startup started with a cost of one lakh rupees is doing business of more than 10 lakhs every year. Even more important, Pooja is making people aware of a healthy future through this.
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