BITTER-SWEET BUSINESS: Tamil Nadu palm jaggery eating into local market share

The sale of palm jaggery from Tamil Nadu is causing a dip in demand for similar jaggery produced in Palghar district. The variant from the southern state is sold for less than half the price of the Palghar jaggery.

Pankaj S RautUpdated: Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 01:08 AM IST
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Palghar: The sale of palm jaggery from Tamil Nadu is causing a dip in demand for similar jaggery produced in Palghar district. The variant from the southern state is sold for less than half the price of the Palghar jaggery.

However, the quality, quantity and purity are unknown to the purchaser. There is no scope of complaining about a sub-standard product as there is no 'customer care', manufacturer details or price listed, nor any best-before dates or other details required for food products making it dangerous for consumption.

A team of vendors from Tamil Nadu sit on either side of the road to sell the palm jaggery packed in containers made of palm leaves. People travelling by road make a stop either out of curiosity or on information that the jaggery is reasonably priced. These vendors visited Palghar district in March this year and came back again in November. There are around six teams from Tamil Nadu selling this palm jaggery in Maharashtra. Each team of about five to six persons sells around 2.5 tonnes of the product.

Jaggery produced locally from palm (neera gul) is sold at Rs600 per kg. The palm jaggery from Tamil Nadu is sold in a range of Rs140-240 per kg. The person selling the product is not conversant in local languages and speaks only a few Hindi words. The local jaggery has a distinctive raw look and a ginger flavour. The one from Tamil Nadu has a similar look causing passersby to believe it is of the same quality.

Mr Gajanan Naik – in charge of the multipurpose training centre of Khadi Gram Udyog – informed that training for preparing jaggery from palm trees (neera) and the financial assistance to start a business is provided to interested people through the Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana. However, due to non-competitive rates, locals are unwilling to enter this business. The centre used to train 100 farmer couples to prepare palm jaggery every year in pre-covid times.

The instructor of the Khadi Gram Udyog multipurpose training centre at Dahanu said approximately 10kg of neera (at a market price of Rs500) is required to prepare 1kg of palm jaggery. The manufacturing expenses and labour make its selling price Rs600 per kg. This jaggery has medical properties and is sugar-free. The officer is doubtful about the quality of the roadside palm jaggery which is available at such a cheap price.

Rubbishing claims of the jaggery being of inferior quality, one of the salesmen said toddy is not permitted to be sold in Tamil Nadu which results in cheaper raw materials. “The cost of production of plain palm jaggery amounts to about Rs80. After adding transportation costs and a slight profit margin it is sold at Rs140 per kg,” he said.

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