The famous Marayoor Jaggery production is facing a threat as the price fall and climate changes push sugarcane farmers in Idukki to leave farming and depend daily wage jobs.
“I have been doing sugarcane farming for the last 15 years. Currently, I have leased 15 acres of land and taken Rs 10 lakh loan from Marayoor Co-operative Bank to cultivate sugarcane. I expected a good harvest and a good price for the jaggery. But now, I lost my hopes,” Manikandan a sugarcane cultivator in Marayoor commented.
Many other sugarcane farmers like Manikandan are planning to do the same,being desperate about the price fall and mounting debts.
The production of high quality Marayoor sharkara thus remains in a hue.The jaggery producers from Tamil Nadu and Andhra are now widely misusing the label of Marayoor Jaggery is also a stumbling stone in the path of this original high quality jaggery.
Sweet but not salty, rich iron and less sodium content, less insoluble impurities and dark brown colour – this is how the locals here describe Marayoor Undasharkara (jaggery balls), one of the sweetest jaggeries produced in Idukki and of high quality.The Marayoor Jaggery is produced by a four step purification and extraction proces,First, the raw sugar is manually extracted from the freshly harvested canes using a diesel-run sugarcane roller until it is pulped into a fibrous residue. As the juice is extracted, the impurities are sieved simultaneously before it is boiled into a thick syrup on a large wok. The bagasse – the waste residue from the extraction – is used to fuel the wok. Once the syrup thickens, the jaggery is poured into a trough. Before the mixture cools down, it is rolled into the jaggery balls.
The strengthening fake Marayoor jaggery market is creating a great trouble to the farmers forcing them to leave the sugarcane cultivation.