Salem: Jaggery producers in and around Salem have increased production in view of Pongal. Farmers have urged the state government to include jaggery in Pongal gift. Meanwhile food safety officials also intensified monitoring to prevent adulteration in jaggery.
The western districts of Salem, Erode and Namakkal districts are major hubs in Tamil Nadu for jaggery production. Jaggery is sold in wholesale markets at Salem, Pilikkalpalayam in Namakkal and also at Sithode in Erode district. Jaggery producers in the region have increased production, expecting greater demand for Pongal. Jaggery price has also come down recently.
S. Sathish, secretary of the Salem District Sugarcane Farmers and Jaggery Manufacturers Association, said, “Jaggery is one of the important ingredients for Pongal, Deepavali and local festivals and sales increase during such festivals.
Last year, a 30 kg jaggery ball was sold for Rs 1,400 and now for Rs 1,300. Similarly, achu vellam was sold for Rs 1,450 last year and now for Rs 1,400.”
Increased sugarcane production and also arrival of jaggery from neighbouring states to Tamil Nadu have caused the price fall this year. Farmers demanded that state government include jaggery in the Pongal gift package as a helping hand for jaggery producers.
However, adulteration has also become common in jaggery production with sugar and chemicals mixed in it. Speaking about measures taken on the issue, the designated officer for Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration, Salem district, Mariappan, said, “About 200 units function in Omalur, Sangagiri and Edappadi in Salem district and we have intensified monitoring to control adulteration in jaggery.”
According to him, three jaggery godowns were sealed in Omalur after a check. He also said, “Special teams were formed for every block to check units from manufacturing adulterated jaggery. Severe action will be taken on unit owners if they are found involved in adulteration.”