MSMEs to benefit as Defense canteens to start e-commerce: Vyapar seminar

Kochi, June 18: The Union government is in an “advanced stage” of activating e-commerce facilities at its Canteen Stores Department (CSD) for online purchase of the goods by its beneficiaries associated with the defense services, a top official revealed at Vyapar 2022.

A meeting of the CSD Board on July 1 will near-finalize the move to set up the digital platform even as the 34 brick-and-mortar depots will continue to function as usual, according to Major General Y.P. Khanduri, General Manager of CSD, which functions under the Ministry of Defense. Either way, it will boost MSMEs, as micro, small and medium industries form a chunk of CSD’s business partners (251 out of the total 555).

The move to let CSD outlets simultaneously go online comes in the wake of two years of Covid-19 that restricted physical movements and left a long backlog in supplies, the senior military officer told a seminar at the June 16-18 business-to-business meet organized here by the Kerala Department of Industries and Commerce.

“Social distancing protocols that came in since the spread of the pandemic in March 2020 inconvenienced our personnel and pensioners totalling 45 lakh across the country. They could not appear at the canteens,” Maj Gen Khanduri recalled in his power-point presentation at JLN International Stadium Ground on Friday night. “Liquor, though, can be accessed only physically from the CSD canteen as the product involves GST payments at the state level.”

The upcoming e-commerce facility will thus enable CSD cardholders to buy groceries and other general items from the defence canteens. “The platform will cater to the beneficiaries across India and the e-bookings will be 24/7,” the speaker said at his 30-minute lecture on ‘Purchase Protocols’ as part of the symposium at Vyapar 2022 which sought to invigorate Kerala’s pandemic-hit MSME units by hosting a products expo that mirrored their technological competence.

The canteens, which typically sell FMCG items, household requisites, watches and stationeries, food and medicines besides liquor and general items, are set for a timely streamlining so as to quicken up the disbursal of undelivered orders, Maj Gen Khanduri said, throwing light on CSDs with 2,000 people on its payrolls while giving indirect employment to 10,000 others.

To a question, the officer said CSD does not supply items that require freezer storage, as the goods have also reach the farthest parts of the country. “That’s also why we don’t sell commodities with a shelf-life of less than six months,” he added, citing reasonable price backed by strict financial control and efficient supply-chain management as the highlights of the canteens.

A subsequent presentation by the Directorate of Industries (DIC) informed that around 14,000 MSME units have registered in Kerala so far during 2022-23, which is being observed as the Year of Entrepreneurs. More than RS 100 crores will be disbursed as subsidy in the current financial year. Also, 2,195 MSMEs have obtained licences through K-SWIFT, while 22,206 others have been issued acknowledgement certificates, Shri P.A. Najeeb, General Manager (DIC), Ernakulam told the seminar.

The administration has envisaged MSME Clinics as a mechanism to address the doubts and concerns of entrepreneurs, he added.

Smt. Shweta Baravani, Program Manager of Amazon’s Karigar and Saheli, spoke about the procurement procedures of the India chapter of the US e-commerce giant Vyapar 2022.


Conso’s gym mats sets a healthy trend in rubber products industry

Kochi, June 17: Even as Kerala remains the lead grower of rubber milk in the country, the southern state has of late been finding sluggish growth in the manufacture of products related to elastic substance. Against this backdrop comes the gym mat, lending fresh hope to the industry.Varied kinds of rubber mats keep hitting the market, but the health-related among them are gaining attraction. The yoga-gym mat is the chief item among them, available for domestic as well as commercial use.

When the variety product is available at costly rates, Conso in Kottayam district sells gym mates at affordable prices. The three-decade-old company at Chingavanam brings out the mat in four squares of one metre and half-a-metre. The pieces can be interlocked and have an anti-slip finish. Also producing rolling mats, the products have fluorescent paints that earn it light at night. The products are available at widths of 6, 8 and 10 mm.

“We get a lot of online enquiries; our products are in demand across the country and abroad,” says its owner Thobias. “We also produce the necessary rubber threads. ”Conso, which is run by the third generation of family-owned business, comes out with ten-odd products, the major among them being stable mats, cow mats and rubber-paving tiles. “We rely on diversification for growth,” adds Thobias. “Daily-use products merit international standards. We must not forget that domestic market is as important as international.”


Chakkakkoottam popularises jackfruit through six variety products

When a 2015 study found that half of the country’s jackfruits goes waste, a team of prospective entrepreneurs in Kerala chose to come together. In Kerala, as one-third of the tropical fruit went unused, the government declared jackfruit the state’s official fruit in March 2018.

Against this backdrop was formed a WhatsApp group named Chakkakkoottam. Its members began initiative ways to make better use of the fibre-rich fruit, proven to have medicinal effect on diabetics. In September 2021, they floated company by the same name: Chakkakkoottam International Private Limited.The enterprise, based in an eastern belt of Ernakulam district, manufactures six varieties of jackfruit products: the raw fruit fried, ripe fruit fried, dried jackfruit, powder jam and halwa.

The fried products are air-fried, thus avoiding oil and ensuring better health, informs Ashok Ramanchirangara, Managing Director of Chakkakkoottam at Pattimattom, 25 km northeast of Kochi. “The past five years have been good time for jackfruit, which is available all months of year except November and December,” he says. “Jackfruits in Kerala mature first in Thiruvananthapuram, heralding the season. The last bunches ripen in the hills of Idukki, making the fruit available for sale even up till October.”Jackfruit products are finding increasing market both across the country and abroad, according to Chakkakkoottam.


Enquiries galored for Ayurvedic yoga mats at Vyapar 2022

Yoga mats made of Ayurvedic herbs were a big hit ahead of the International Day of Yoga, which falls on June 21, at Vyapar 2022, owing to its therapeutic effect of reducing skin diseases and rashes. The exhibition stall of handwoven yoga and meditation mats, which are made after dyeing threads in a concoction of seven herbs, drew the attention of the delegates at the three-day B2B event at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium Ground in the city, organized by the Department of Industries and Commerce. The B2B meet is a targeted drive to tap the national market for a wide range of products from Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

At the meet, many buyers from across the country evinced keen interest in creating a tie-up and know more about the endeavour of Ayurvastra Textiles Private Limited, which is based at Balaramapuram in Thiruvananthapuram.

“There has been a demand for bedsheets and other products, but in recent times there are inquiries for Ayurvedic yoga mats from abroad,” said Adarsh M P, General Manager of the firm. “Considering their medicinal benefits, various handloom-made Ayurvedic fabrics, including baby wears, bedsheets, pillow covers and towels are popular in European countries. We are exporting yoga mats and also dress materials dyed in Ayurvedic herbal mixture to countries like Austria, Denmark, US, Holland and Brazil,” he added.

According to him, the fabrics dipped in Ayurvedic herbal concoction are getting numerous enquiries as they can reduce skin diseases and rashes. The company purchases herbs from Kottur in Thiruvananthapuram. Shri Adarsh informed that three types of turmeric are used for creating yellow colour, besides tulsi, gall nut and leaves of mango tree for getting certain other colors for fabrics, including khadi, linen and handlooms.


‘Herbal water’ at Vyapar-2022 stall energises body beyond quenching thirst’

Kochi, June 17: Amid a plethora of bottled water in the market, products of a Kerala-based startup stand out for not just their variety flavours but medicinal plants that energise the body beyond quenching thirst. The company from upstate Malappuram district is attracted delegates at the Vyapar 2022 in this city with what the entrepreneurs claim is the first ‘herbal water’ manufactured in Kerala.

Infused with therapeutic ingredients from flora, the herbal water infuses the aromatic krishna tulsi (holy basil) and black cumin (karinjeerakam or kala jeera), according to volunteers of the Manjeri-based Aparma Beverages attended the June 16-18 business-to-business meet being organized chiefly by the Kerala Department of Industries and Commerce.

Developed by the 2019-founded firm’s professional R&D team, the IS0-certified product comes out of the factory after nine stages of international-level quality check. The product also undergoes a string of tests on pH level which measures the acidity of water, points out Ahammed Shabeerali, owner and Managing Director of the company. Aparma’s bottles, which are available in sizes of 400, 750 and 1,000 litres, bear flavours of orange, strawberry and blueberry depending on the fruit that goes into the product.

The company also manufactures ‘nutrient water’ with calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc besides amla (gooseberry) extract. A third variety is ‘flavoured water’ which has categories in orange, peach, cucumber, blueberry, lemon, mint, strawberry and watermelon. There is also ‘sports water’, infused with electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride. Besides, the company brings out ‘alkaline water’ that has pH level higher than that of plain water.