Poor quality robs jaggery of sweetness

The jaggery produced in the district, which was attracting traders in large numbers to Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), is seeing a slump leaving the farmers worried.

Decades ago, traders from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala would throng the APMC as there was great demand for the product. Now, the sales are limited only to Bengaluru and Mysuru.

Trading of jaggery is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. About five years ago, 13 to 15 lakh cakes of jaggery were sold per day. Now, not more than two to three lakh cakes are sold. Compared to the last five years, trading has come down by at least 60 per cent.

Substandard

Substandard quality of jaggery is said to be the reason behind the slump in the sales. It is alleged that growers were using chemicals above the recommended levels, including urea, which affects quality.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, APMC officials said, unscientific preparation had also resulted in jaggery losing its colour within two days of preparation, with no takers.

With Mandya leading in production and sale of jaggery and farmers in Andhra Pradesh setting up jaggery units, the number of traders buying jaggery from Chamarajanagar APMC has reduced.

The sale of jaggery in shopping malls is also said to have affected the sales. The mall owners do not purchase jaggery from APMCs, but buy it directly from jaggery units. Currently, one quintal of cast jaggery is sold for Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000.

e-tendering

Last year, the State government had announced introduction of e-tender process for jaggery trading in the district, however, it has not taken off so far. Confusion in e-tender process is creating hurdles in its implementation. While online buyers prefer best quality jaggery, it is not possible to know, whose jaggery has been sold until the tenders are opened, said traders. There is no clear decision in this regard from the government. So, the e-tender process of jaggery is gathering dust, officials said.

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