The making of a spice queen

Meenakshi M Maharaaj

Kavita Yadav

She taught alphabets to tiny-tots. She worked as the cook in her husband’s hotel. And finally, she landed in spice network to become mini ‘masala queen’. The lady to write her own success story is Kavita Yadav of Ranchi. Kavita has made forays into the highly competitive spice (masala) industry.

“It is not easy to tread in industry dominated by multi-nationals and our home brand giants”, she says and adds, “I have decided to swim or sink here”. And, Kavita is now growing from strength to strength. Born in a small room in Ranchi, her brand of spices, is now sold in Jharkhand and Orissa. Her role model is Shri Mahila Grih Udyog, recognised by Khadi and Village Industries Commission, which sells papad, pickles and other domestic products all over the country. Every item is produced by women’s cooperatives under uniform quality norms and is sold with its brand name.

To begin at the beginning, Kavita Yadav was born in a lower middle class family. After marriage she became a primary school teacher with her man Friday. She settled down in Jharkhand’s state capital, Ranchi but was not cut out to rest on the oars. This young angry woman was restless to do something special. She prodded her husband to open a restaurant. She came out with all the possibilities and capacities to support her husband. She indulged herself fervently in establishing his business. All the logistics of raw materials for cooking was done by her but it was the spices in the market which did not match her standards of cooking. “No compromise on the quality of spices, which are an important ingredient of cooking, can be made”, she mused.

That is how, the seeds of making spices of her choice and quality sprouted. Kavita knew that India is the home of spices and produces a wide variety of spices like black pepper, cardamom, ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli etc. It is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices and spice products. Indian spices are not only famous for their captive flavour and taste in the food but also for their therapeutic value. She didn’t coop her talent within the walls of the kitchen and gave a new taste, flavour and direction to the business.

To her one woman show, she added a dozen more women and named the product ‘Padosan Masale’. She motivated and encouraged more women into the trade. Slowly and steadily fair sexes formed small groups to produce spice products. Now, she has a team of 30 and odd cooperative societies making spices. All of them prepare spices to set specifications, package and sell them in markets under a common brand name. “Quality, warmth and flavour have made our products very popular in Ranchi and its aroma has spread to the whole of Jharkhand and Orissa”, a proud Kavita said.

The Union government has extended a great help to Kavita. In 2001, Khadi Gram Udyog gave her some monetary assistance from which she purchased two machines. Now the Padosan has 21 types of spices. She has plans in her sleeves to reach every kitchen with her mouth-watering chutneys and delicious flavoured milk. Her brand is not only giving employment to the needy but also imparting training to uneducated women to earn livelihood for their families. Kavita has emerged as a symbol of modern women who stand against all the oddities of life. She continues in an exultant mood, “I am still enamoured of the kitchen chores, and this talent, this fondness has given me a new identity in the society”.

The Union government is providing financial assistance to farmers, growers and spice producers. It has taken steps to ensure the availability of better quality spices in order to boost exports. In the World Spice Trade, India acquires 48 per cent of the global export volume. The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, and Spices Board of India are the main channels for promoting research and export activities.

Kavita has scaled the Himalayan heights. And, inadvertently she has emerged as a moving spirit behind the novel of “Mistress of spices” by Chitra Banerjee Devakurni. Kavita Yadav is a real life mistress of spices.

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