Laxmi salt: adding wisdom to a simple staple in India

A customer of Laxmi Salt blesses owner Jagdish Keshaubhi Prajapati for adding iodine to his salt.

A customer of Laxmi Salt blesses owner Jagdish Keshaubhi Prajapati for adding iodine to his salt.

On a busy street in Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India, Jagdish Keshaubhi Prajapati is running his chakki (salt crushing machine) at Laxmi Salt.

Jagdish inherited the small business from his father and started iodizing his salt in 1995 when iodization laws were passed. Efforts to educate salt processors on why iodization was important were successful.

“I knew I had to iodize for children’s brain development and health,” said Jagdish.

What Jagdish didn’t know how to do was iodize properly.

“I didn’t know how much to add, when to add it and how to handle the mixture.”

MI started working with the chakkis in Ahmedabad in 2007, when it was clear proper iodization efforts were failing.

Small processors like Jagdish had no capacity to buy potassium iodate and no proper iodization equipment. This meant that those who were buying salt from these small storefront salt processors were not consuming iodized salt, and so were unprotected against iodine deficiency disorders.

MI worked with the Indian Salt Commissioner’s Office and other partners to coordinate the chakkis, help equip the chakkis with a drip feed for consistent iodization and monitor iodine levels. Sales were swift.

When MI extender Bhavin Kundalia comes to take an iodized salt sample for testing, one of Jagdish’s customers asked “what are you testing for?”

When told it’s for iodine and that it’s for brain development in the first days after conception, she replied”I’ve never heard of this before; I haven’t been adding it to my salt!”

When she heard Jagdish has been doing it for her, before she buys, she exclaimed: “Bless you for helping my family!”

MI’s work in 2010 helped small and medium scale salt processors in India produce an additional 638,460 MT of adequately iodized salt, enough for 160 million people.