Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Mahua– MadhucaLongifoliafrom Madhya Pradesh is now gaining recognition as an ethnic food among Europeans. Mahua-based food products are visible in the European food market. They have become essential for every food-basket.
The UK-based company O-Forest has introduced Mahua products in the market. Of them, Mahua tea, Mahua powder, and roasted Mahua snacks are now gaining popularity.
O-Forest has undergone an agreement with the Government of Madhya Pradesh for purchasing 200 tons of Mahua. This will directly benefit the tribal families who are tragically involved in Mahua collection.
Mahua is a sacred fruit for tribal communities. Mahua laddoos and traditional Mahua liquor are part of their heritage cuisine.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the first time in the country declared the support price for Mahua along with other minor forest produce.With this, the tribal families doing Mahua collection have got rid of middlemen. They are also getting good prices in the market now. Going into the international market will fetch higher prices for Mahua collecting families. The support price for Mahua is Rs. 35 per kilogram. With increasing demand for Mahua in Europe, they will get Rs. 100 to 110 rupees per kilogram.
Mahua is abundant in Madhya Pradesh. In one season, approximately 7.55 lakh quintals are collected. A full-grown Mahua tree laden with flowers yields upto 100 kilograms of Mahua. About 3.77 lakh families collect Mahua to eke out living. Each family collects Mahua from at least three trees. They collect an average of two quintals of Mahua per year. Around 50 percent of Mahua collection comes from the Umaria, Alirajpur, Sidhi, Singrauli, Dindori, Mandla, Shahdol, and Betul districts. Under the guidance of the Chief Minister, Mahua collectors have been provided a number of facilities.
Meera Shah, co-founder O-Forest Company, observes that Mahua fruit is a gift of nature. We are extremely happy working with Madhya Pradesh Govt as we have got an opportunity to celebrate the Mahua fruit and contribute to preserving it in tribal culture.
She said that buying Mahua flowers at the support price is a bold step by the government. This will increase the importance of Mahua as a food item, and facilitate its access to larger markets. The income of Mahua collecting families will certainly increase and they will be inspired to conserve Mahua trees. The value of Mahua flowers has increased several times with value-added food products.
When asked about the growing preference for ethnic Mahua-based food products in the European market, Shah points out that millions of people move from one country to another. They want to be have flavour of culinary cultures of new country. In this way, Mahua-based food products from Madhya Pradesh are being tasted with interest.
She said that the UK has a diverse population, so the cuisines and food products from every country in the world are available there increasing prospects of ethnic food items.
The state government has launched a policy to present traditional Mahua liquor as Heritage Wine. The Self-help Groups from tribal areas will be granted licenses to make it. Each self-help group can give its product a unique brand name. More than one self-help group in a district can also be granted licenses. At least 50 percent of the members of self-help groups should be women.