Santiniketan Society for Youth Empowerment, a non-profit, has set up Bangla Misti Academy at Bolpur to protect the art of making Bengali sweets and desserts, a couple of months ago. The main objective of the academy is to protect and preserve the rich heritage and to make available to the industry trained and skilled craftsmen. The academy also will be training people about the hygienic norms and processes, to sensitize entrepreneurs and workers on the scientific methods of making desserts and teaching the workers about quality control.
The academy will also provide consultancy services for anyone who needs knowhow on the field. Bangla Misti Academy, which conducts short-term programmes, will also encourage the workers to be selfemployed and be self-reliant. The training programme covers short-term certificate courses and diplomas in sweet production. As part of its women empowerment, the NGO has also trained Santhal girls from Shantiniketan in the art of dessert making. Santiniketan Society for Youth Empowerment has roped in a team of experts from various streams like management, technical professionals, cultural personalities and academicians for the initiative.
The team is led by Robin Ghosh, economist, management and communication consultant, who is an alumni of Delhi School of Economics (DSE). Talking to The Statesman, Robin Ghosh, president of the non-profit informed that it is the dream to transform the traditional business into a modern business with the adoption of food machinery and making hygienic food. “There are about 100 popular sweets and deserts of Bengal which can be packaged. With the adoption of modern packaging technology, the shelf life of sweets can increase between three to six months. Presently only the GItagged rasgullas are the best seller in the vacuum packed box (tin) misti category, followed by the pantua,” added Mr Ghosh.
Through online sales, from supermarkets to airports, the sale of packaged rasgulla is very high. Mr Ghosh further said that the craftsmen earlier used to charge between Rs 150 to Rs 200 per day but these days they charge between Rs 800 to Rs 900. Small sweet shops find it difficult to sustain because of these huge price escalations. Through highly-productive food machinery, about 2,000 rasgullas, pantua, ledikeni, chom chom can be prepared within an hour. These automatic machines can also produce mishti doi and rabris. “Like any other industry, the Bangla sweets and desserts industry is also technology-driven and the manufacturers must accept this change in order to survive,” Ghosh added.