Laborious process, thin profits put jaggery production in check | Goa News

Margao: The exuberance with which Chandru Velip, 85, of Netravali leads the village in the traditional jaggery-making exercise belies his age. This can be attributed to the fact that he, like many of his fellow citizens, has been engaged in the activity since his teenage years. He learned the tricks of the trade from his father, a know-how passed down from generation to generation.
Coinciding with the sugarcane harvesting season, tribal communities in parts of Goa engage in the production of sugarcane jaggery, which was once a thriving cottage industry. However, the traditional occupation is struggling to survive today.
“Not so long ago, every house in this neighborhood grew sugar cane and produced jaggery. The younger generation has neither the time nor the inclination to indulge in this laborious occupation because it has no longer remained profitable. The few of us, despite several difficulties, do it just to keep the tradition alive,” Velip said.
Diesel-powered mechanized grinders have now replaced traditional ox-driven grinders, but the jaggery production process has retained its organic farming and post-harvest production process techniques.
At the start of the sugarcane harvest season, the crushers are rented and installed near the sugarcane fields where a temporary shed is erected each year. The cut cane stalks are all bundled and fed into the crushing unit. The juice is collected in huge barrels, which are then poured into large iron pans and heated above an oven. This is then churned for several hours until it thickens and acquires a golden yellow color. Now reduced to one-third of the original volume, it is then poured into a shallow, flat-bottomed wooden tank to cool and solidify. Once cooled, it is then molded into the desired size and shape. Pure organic Goan products rich in nutritional value and possessing medicinal properties are now ready to be consumed and sold.
The production of traditional jaggery lasts for several days until all the stock of sugar cane harvested for this purpose is exhausted. Velip said that since most products are used for their own consumption, demand always exceeds supply.
However, the villagers do not cultivate sugar cane, the production is in constant decline. “The challenges are many,” Velip said, adding, “Besides insufficient water supply for irrigation, animals like wild boar, bison, destroy crops, causing heavy losses.”
In view of this, traditional jaggery producers are increasingly demanding that the state government grant cottage industry status to the occupation with a view to reviving the centuries-old business and giving a boost to the industry. rural economy.

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