We met with Vallinayaham and Muthusamy (check out the video) who live with their 4 children in the village of Mettupalyam, 45 kms away from Coimbatore. The couple is involved in the business of manufacturing puffed rice. Puffed rice is also known as Pori in Kannada and Tamil and Bhel in Hindi. We have memories of having it along the beach or at home on a rainy day. So we decided to head to Mettupalyam to learn what goes behind making one of our favourite evening snacks !
The process is not as simple as we think – there are a bunch of steps involved in making crispy puffed rice for your evening snack.
The paddy is first sourced from Mysore
Day 1: The paddy is soaked in hot water and left for drying for a day.
Day 2: The dried paddy is mixed with sand and is run through a dryer. The paddy is later stored in a gunny bag for a day.
Day 3: The rice is then sun-dried in the fields after which it is sent for milling
Day 4: The de-husked paddy is then soaked in salt water. This is how we get the salted flavor in the puffed rice
Day 6: After it is dried, the par boiled rice is run through the dryer for the last time
The process takes 6 days to complete.
Economics of 'Pori' or 'Puffed rice'
Rice is bought at Rs 19 per kg (earlier it was Rs 16 per kg). One bag of rice is close to 75 kgs. One bag of rice can be processed into 5 bags of puffed rice. Each bag of puffed rice (104 litres) is sold at Rs 330- Rs 380 depending on the season. They are able to make Rs 300- 400 per bag of rice.
The total cost of production per load of 750 kgs (10 bags of rice) is close to Rs 20,000 including labour costs. Muthusamy is able to process 12 loads in a month.
In the earlier days, puffed rice was made by hand. Muthusamy tells us that he used to take 16 hours to process 40 bags of puffed rice and employed 20 people for the same. But from 2009, he uses the machine or the dryer to process the puffed rice and only requires 5 labourers to help him. He processes 40 bags in 1 hour in the new process. Now-a-days, it is difficult to find people who are willing to do this job by hand. Hence, they moved to using machines where they employ lesser people. They also have a trustworthy clientele and supply their produce in Perinayakkanpalyam, Thudialur, Coimbatore and even Pollachi when the demand is high.
Journey with Ujjivan
Vallinayaham has been with Ujjivan since 2010 when her friend at the nearby rice mill informed her about it. She says that she would never get a loan at such a low interest rate.
She initially took a group loan of Rs 8000 along with a top up loan of Rs 6000. She then took a loan of Rs 20000 and invested all her loan amount into her business. She later applied for a loan of Rs 40000 and bought a vehicle. The vehicle helps them to transport the produce to the market. They need not go to the market themselves. Currently she is repaying a loan of Rs 50000 with Ujjivan. They find monthly center meetings very convenient and have no complaints.
Competition and future plans
There isn't much competition in the surrounding areas. He is one of the 3 players who process puffed rice using a machine/dryer. Both of them are convinced that no downturn would affect them in the future. They wish to buy some nearby land and expand their business and hence are requesting for a higher loan. Vallinayaham and Muthusamy have been in the business since a long time. When asked if the new age readymade snacks act as a deterrent for their business- they say except for the monsoons, there is never a time when their business doesn't do well.
The biggest challenge for them is that they are not able to store the paddy during the monsoons. And they believe that being with Ujjivan will help them to get a higher loan of Rs 100000 which would help them to construct an efficient storage shed in order to store the raw materials and increase their business even during the monsoons.
Pic 1- Vallinayaham and Muthusamy stand over the dried paddy, which they put on the open courtyard in their house. Behind are the gunny bags of paddy they source from Mysore
Pic 1a – Soak the paddy in hot water
Pic 1b - Tank where they soak the paddy after getting it from Mysore. They use coconut husk as fuel
Pic 2- the dryer which is used to dry the paddy and make the puffed rice.
Pic 3- The de-husked rice is soaked in salt water in this cement tank to bring in some flavor to the 'pori'
Pic 4- Muthusamy pushes the puffed rice from the dryer into heaps
See Vallinayaham speak in this video.
-Praneeta Kanchinadam, Product Manager-South