NAMAKKAL: With Salem and neighbouring districts including Namakkal being a leading producer of 'Sago' in the country, steps are afoot to sell 'Sago (Javvarisi in Tamil)' through all the ration shops in the public distribution system (PDS) in Tamil Nadu from Deepavali festival eve this year, 'Salem Sagoserve' president, N Tamizhmani has said.
Chief Minister, Mr. Edappadi K Palaniswami will launch the sago sales scheme through ration shops before the ensuing Deepavali festival, and officials are ascertaining the district level requirements of 'sago' that could be offloaded to the PDS, Mr. Tamizhmani said.
He was speaking here on Monday after inaugurating a computerised monitoring centre on behalf of 'Sagoserve' taluk unit in Namakkal that serves the tapioca growers in this taluk. This is the first such computerised centre that was opened, part of a larger project to have an online monitoring facility that links all the sago producing units in the western districts of Tamil Nadu, he noted.
The Salem Starch and Sago Manufacturers Service Industrial Cooperative Society, popularly known as 'Sagoserve' was formed in 1981, to help get a better deal for tapioca farmers as Salem and neighbouring districts including Namakkal are famous for tapioca production.
'Sago' and 'Starch' are finished products from tapioca and the average tapioca yield in this belt is 25 tonnes to 30 tonnes per hectare, higher than the national average. 'Sagoserve' is headquartered in Salem. Tamil Nadu has about 450 sago units, mainly in the districts of Salem, Namakkal, Erode and Dharmapuri. But now only 250 sago units are functional. The sago industry faces problems of standardization, lack of adequate testing facility, poor marketing and common effluent treatment plant facility among others, which 'Sagoserve' addresses.
Mr. Tamizhmani said the government has sanctioned a publicity van that will take the message of what all food products could be further made from 'sago', to help create awareness among the people at large across the state. 'Sagoserve' also plans to directly procure tapioca from the farmers and distribute to sago-making units, he disclosed.
Mr. Tamizhmani said the computerised monitoring centres were being set up to overcome the problem of lack of standardization in sago manufacture and to "prove" to the consuming public there was no 'adulteration'. The average productivity of sago units has now gone up to 12,000 bags per day and annual production of sago has improved to ten lakh bags, he said, adding, Sagoserve was targeting a Rs.1,000 crore sales revenue annually from the present Rs.460 crore.