Local flour mills: Loosing the competition against branded packaged flour
The flour mills or 'Atta Chakkis' rattling in street corners of old localities of the city, which have been fighting a losing battle for their existence with rising preferences of people for processed flour, are getting some consolation in the form of new customers reverting to coarse Chakki Atta on doctor's advice.
Maneesh Mishra, a lawyer, said, "I used to consume
packaged flour earlier. But when I went through serious stomach
trouble, my doctor advised me to eat coarsely grinded flour
containing sufficient amount of bran. Now I consume only flour of
atta chakki (flour mil) and have stopped purchasing packed flour".
Customers like Mishra, however, do not mean much for
Gupta, who is worried about his future. Many flour mill owners have
already abandoned their old business
and opted for other avocations.
In Narhi alone there were 12 flour mills till five years ago. Only
seven of these are now functional. The rest have closed business.
According to Ram Chandra Gupta, President of Narhi
Atta Chakki Association, five years ago there were nearly 800 mills
in the city. Half of these do not exist now.
The business of flour mills mainly runs on the
support of poor people who draw wheat from fair price shops on Below
Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards. Wheat is available at the rate of Rs
6.60 per kg to BPL card holders. If Rs 3 grinding charges are added,
the flour still costs less than Rs 10 per kg. Flour in the open
market sells at Rs 22.
"I cannot afford to buy flour from the market and
have no option but to go to the flour mill", say Mamta a domestic