Jaggery-making: challenges of this cottage industry

Jaggery-making: challenges of this cottage industry

 

Predominantly, the Indian population is rural, with more than 65% of the population living in the villages. Majority of Indian population suffers either under-nutrition and/ or malnutrition. We are forever looking for ways and means to enhance health of the population. Herein, jaggery, being the wholesome medicinal sugar, comes to the rescue. Jaggery is not only nutritious but also easily available to rural India.

 

Typically to make jaggery, i.e. gur, the filtered cane juice is pumped into open pans, kept on a triple pan furnace, fired with the bagasse. The juice is clarified with traditional herbal clarificants, thereby eliminating impurities in suspension, and colloidal/ colouring compounds by accumulation. The juice is then boiled and concentrated to make jaggery in desired shape and sizes.

 

Still considered a labour-intensive industry, and confined mostly confined to rural areas, jaggery has concentrated production and scattered consumption patterns. Traditionally enough, to satiate the consumer misconception that light is cleaner and healthier, gur manufacturers often resort to chemical aids to clarify and decolorise the juice. Processed in unhygienic conditions, delivered in none or insignificant packing, this potpourri of chemicals enters the human digestive system and converts the ‘healthy jaggery’ into unhealthy. Unhygienic and chemical-catalyzed manufacturing practices and loose packing has diverted many a customer away from gur.

 

We, at Dhampur Green, wanted to build on Indian traditional knowledge and save the jaggery cottage industry from passing away prematurely. Within this effort, we aimed to make the present and future generations in close connect with traditional sweeteners like wholesome gur. Hence, we invested in extensive R&D to set up the most modern and hygienic facility to manufacture jaggery. After years of research and employing various techniques and combinations, we have presented the market with India’s first and most sanitized, healthy, and wholesome packaged jaggery.

 

It is rather unfortunate that gur, being one of the most ancient cottage industries, is completely overlooked and royally ignored by the government. Gur manufacturers are burdened by the forever escalating a miscellany of taxes-- Mandi Samiti Tax, Sugar Cane Tax, excise duty and more. It is surprising to note that khandsari sugar is exempted from excise duty even though jaggery, which is an intermediate product, has excise duty levied on it.

 

As it is, the gur manufacturer has enough challenges to face. Gur, being a seasonal product, needs a cold chain for supply in off season. However, there is a complete absence of ‘inexpensive’ cold storage and cold chain in India. While gur production is only from November to March, consumers expect it year round. To crown it all, the gur manufacturer collapses when the consumer compares price of hygienically processed and packed jaggery against the loose ‘fly-tasted’ gur.

 

Jaggery's health benefits go beyond the kitchen. It has long been observed that people who work in highly toxic surroundings and regularly consume jaggery, such as industrial workers in dusty or smoky environments, have little or no bronchial or lung discomfort. Jaggery is one of the most important and ancient rural cottage industries. It provides jobs to the unemployed rural people in their vicinity with minimum capital investment. Not only is it cheaper than white sugar, but also more nutritious. It is important to safeguard the interest of jiggery manufacturing units and improve manufacturing technologies.

 

The gur manufacturer needs help and attention- of the government, and the consumer- in unison!


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