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Something Sweet- Tracking the Jaggery Units near Belagavi

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by Swatee Jog

Considered for long as the poor cousin of the lustrous sugar, jaggery is now taking its position in the limelight, thanks to all its health benefits. Doctors today dissuade people from consuming the five white eatables – rice, sugar, maida, salt, and milk, or to at least limit their usage to a bare minimum. However, the humble jaggery has managed to remain in the good books of all the sweet- aficionados. Belagavi is a major hub of jaggery production, thanks to its affinity to the Sugarcane producing belt surrounding it. Although there is a significant drop in the number of units producing Jaggery, it is still a treat to watch the ones that are left.


Villages and towns in the Eastern and Western parts of Belagavi – Balekundri, Mutga, Modaga, Sulebhavi and Kallehol, Ambewadi are areas where we can still find the Jaggery Making Units. Especially the Eastern villages house a substantial number of such units. The raw material is the sugarcane, which is found in plenty in these areas. The process of manufacturing jaggery is quite tedious. The sugarcane is procured in bulk from farmers. The units that we approached were not manned by any owner but managed by laborers. A primitive crushing machine is used to crush the cane and the juice is collected in a pit or tank. It is then poured into a massive pan with a diameter of around 7 – 8 feet, commonly called Kahili in Marathi.

jaggeryThe fuel used to heat the juice is the dried bagasse along with some wood. The pans can collect juices of upto 1500 litres at once. It is boiled for almost 2.5 hours, up to 200 degrees, by when the juice starts caramelizing. Slurry accumulated above the juice is frequently removed by hand and collected in a tin container. Soda and powdered vegetable oil are added to the boiling mixture. Once the juice starts thickening, it is poured into a big tin tray and after a little cooling, it is poured into small buckets. The peculiar shape of these buckets lends the jaggery mound its shape. It takes around an hour for the jaggery to completely cool and solidify. The season lasts for 4 months, starting around Mid November to March.

800 liters of juice when boiled for 2.5 hours produces 16 mounds of jaggery of 10 kgs each. The retail price of jaggery at these units is Rs. 33 ( for yellow jaggery) to Rs. 35 ( for deep brown jaggery), which means that 800 litres of juice produces 160 kgs or roughly Rs. 5600 worth of end products. An average of around 5 laboureres were seen at each unit which had an electric connection for the crushing machine.

The only problem with this jaggery is the hygiene. None of the workers wore any protective gear. The tin moulds were lying open with some flies merrily gorging on the fresh jaggery. The crushed juice was collected in containers in the open without much sieving. No surprise then that much of the jaggery available here contains shreds of bagasse and traces of dust and wood ash.

But the consolation is the amazing taste of the jaggery as also the juice that one can just pick from the source! The jaggery thus produced is used in a variety of sweets including Tilgul, payasam, gul-poli, puran-poli, laddus as also in many dishes including Sambar, Rasam which have a marble-sized piece added. The jaggery may not have the looks of sugar, but it is much sweeter and healthier than the other.

About the Author: Swatee Jog works as a Placement Officer and also teaches at Bharatesh Global Business School, and her articles have been published in Mint, HT and DNA and she has also authored two books which are being published, one on management and one science book for kids.

8 thoughts on “Something Sweet- Tracking the Jaggery Units near Belagavi”

  1. Dear Madam

    thanx for the article… There are more than 2000 jaggery units in North karnataka..Benefits of jaggery is ggod for hhuman health….For overall development of jaggery units technology, etc need of the hour is Jaggery Board on same lines of Tea board , coffe board or Spices board or Oil Seeds Board, kindly pursue to have a Jaggery Board in central & State governments..thank u we could work i out and be greatful

    Vijaykumar Shintre
    Chairman NGO Parvatidevi m Shintre Rural development Society kurli
    Promotor: Laxmi Renu Offset Multicolour Printers Heidelberg Imported Germany Machine 524 Auto nagar Double Road Belgaum

  2. Good Article ,,Reminds of our Old Tradition, But unfortunately i think there is no Scope/Support from the Government for these “Jaggery makers”.

    • Have you made a study on which jaggery is good for health?? Apart from the natural ingredients what other ingredients are added?? A mere business model study does not help.

  3. HI ,
    We are invbolved in Jaggery and natural products distributor in bangalore . Please contact me for Jaggery marketing . 8861623853

  4. Swateeji you article takes me into our childhood we all friends is to go on picnic cycling to Rakaskop and while returning we used to find this gudachi kaavil on fire in some sugarcane fields and if you ask the working people over there they used to give us unlimited sugarcane juice to drink and if you have any container available they used to fill it to us to take away home free. You can have the malai gud also dipped in the kaavil a sugarcane as lollipop wow what a taste…Even we remember the women selling KAKVI produced while making GUD (Jaggery) which we used to eat with chapatis & Bhakris dipping for breakfast. Jaggery is definitely healthy with no bad health effects than sugar. Now a days jaggery comes under Organic food.

  5. And sad to hear that most of these people adulterate the healthy jaggery with harmful chemicals just for the light colour. I dont understand why my fellow Indians are behind the colour. Why doesnt the food safety officers of Karanataka take severe actions against the chemical suppliers and the users? Why no raids occurs in hotels?? Am sure everyone must have suffered dysentery cause of hygenic hotel food.


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