Apr 11, 2012

Organic jaggery making unit at Idagundi

Feb 10, 2012.

I left Dharwad early morning, Veena Bhat in company. We were on our way to attend Raghu Lalguli's wedding function at Kavdikeri near Yellapur. Breakfast was at Veena's house at Idagundi. One of their family friends, Ganapati Keregadde who had come to meet Veena's father invited us to visit the Aale Mane- jaggery making unit -in his fields. Jaggery is a sweetener which existed much before sugar was invented. Ganapati's house/fields is about a kilometer from Veena's house. Veena's sister Vinaya and cousin Mahesh join us.

The Aale-Mane is a simple but efficient set-up; juice is extracted from sugarcane, the juice is boiled to reduce water content and finally allowed to cool & solidify.

In the picture below you see sugarcane in the background. Cane is chopped, cleaned and moved to the cane-crusher. The diesel engine powered cane crusher extracts cane-juice. The juice flows through a pipeline to a small barrel, which is emptied into a large pan heated over a mud-stove. The stove once lit burns continuously until the process is completed. Fuel for the stove is wood and also dried bagasse. That's Nagya, a Siddhi tribesman stirring the boiling cane juice. Nagya's family members are in-charge of chopping/cleaning cane stalks.

That's Veena, Vinaya and Mashesh with Ganapati's father Krishna Keregadde. The juice is boiled for 6 to 7 hours until the required consistency is achieved. During the process, the liquid is stirred frequently and  a grey colored foam which accumulates on the surface is removed.

Unlike commercial jaggery-making units farmers in this region do not use chemicals to attain color. Gold  colored jaggery fetches better price in market. This jaggery would be brown colored. Most of the jaggery produced is for own use, a year's supply. Whatever is extra is sold off.

I was happy to learn that farmers in Yellapur region practice organic farming while rest of Karnataka has hit extremes in abusing chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Yellapur farmers use cow-dung manure and forest waste to maintain soil fertility. It's their opinion that crops grown on organic fertilizers are less prone to pest attacks and diseases. Food grown on organic matter taste better and have longer shelf life.

In this video, Krishna and Ganapati explain part of the jaggery making process. Basavaraju the cab driver is showing lot of interest in Yellapur jaggery-making process.

Besides us there were three visitors from Honnavar. Our hosts offer us churmuri and fresh cane juice. This sugarcane is grown using organic fertilizers and rain water. The taste was superb, I must have had 3 tumblers full. Cane juice is heavier than water. Veena remarked that she's had so much that she's unable to breath properly :-)

The long rectangular pan is the cooling pan. Hot liquid jaggery is pored into it and allowed to cool and solidify. A think cotton cloth is spread over the pan to keep put insects and other flying matter.

Paddy and betelnut are the main crops in Yellapur region. Sugarcane, banana and coconut are next in the line. Spices like cardamon and pepper are also grown. Some farmers gave a try with vanilla too. Harvested betelnut bunches laid out for peeling. Deeper into the picture you can see peeled nuts spread out for drying.

Arecanut is processed in two methods; first one involves peeling, drying and sorting. The second involves  peeling, boiling, drying and sorting. The second method involves more work but fetches better price in market.

That's the Keregadde family- Parvati, Ganapati and Krishna and Ganga. The elderly lady is Ganga, Krishna's sister.

Back at Veena's home, Ramakrishna Bhat (Veena's father) was lamenting his inability to grow off-monsoon crops. All he has to do is sow seeds (few types of pulses) and cultivate the field. No water is needed, crops just grow. But the problem is wild life- rats, rabbits, foxes and wild pigs damage crops and there's no way to prevent them from doing so.

With little difficulty we got Mahesh to accompany us to the wedding at Kavdikeri. We are at the venue- Kavdikeri Durgadevi temple -by 10-30, wedding ceremony was in progress. We meet the groom and his parents and settle down to watch the ceremonies. After the knot is tied, lunch is served. We had lunch squatting on mats, a typical Havyak Bramhan wedding meal. We wish happy married life to the newly wedded couple and say bye.

Sonda fort was at the back of the mind until now. We head towards Sirsi in search of Sonda's historical monuments.



Team G Square said...

Enjoyed the organic farm visit ....

dr.umesh l said...

If you visit the Malaprabha, Krishna and Ghataprabha river belts you cam find lots of Jaggery preparation units -"Ale Mane". Every year owners invite and offers the juice and jaggery mixed with ginger (while molten condition they do add the paste of ginger).

I have seen people adding trees of Gongura (pundi palya in north karnataka) language to get good color. When they add, their will be brown colored foam, which they skim off and do for 2-3 times. I think, now they add acids like sulfuric acid (hence won't lost for long time)..

Interesting info...

siddeshwar said...

@Team G Square thank you

@dr.umesh I had heard about various herbs being added earlier to improve color and shelf life. Now harmful chemicals have replaced our age old herbs :( Off late looks & packaging has preference over taste & quality.

dr.umesh l said...

You are right bland mucilage of okra (bende in kannada)plants is used as a clarifier in jaggery preparation also(certain important medicinal attribute for okra, which is given to people suffering form renel colic, leucorrhoea, spermatorrhoea, chronic dysentery and general weakness and inflammation).

Therefore people who really know these things won't buy the golden yellow colored jaggery !, still prefer the brown colored one....

Dhananjayan Nambiar said...

Hi sir , I need organic jaggery . where shall i go . my contact no 9544888897