The sale of fake jaggery in the name of Marayoor jaggery had reduced the original price in the market, forcing many farmers to give up sugarcane farming.

Sweet victory Idukkis Marayoor Jaggery gets GI tag
news GI Tag Friday, March 08, 2019 - 13:28

The Marayoor jaggery, the traditional and handmade product from Idukki district, has finally received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from central government. Produced in Marayoor, this jaggery is made from sugarcane and no chemicals are added during the manufacturing process. Workers from Onakkallur, a village in Udumalpet in Tamil Nadu, are engaged in the production of the Marayoor jaggery.

“The Marayoor jaggery got the GI status after two years of effort by the Agricultural department. The GI tag will provide more windows of opportunity to the traditional sugarcane farmers in Marayoor,” Kerala state Agricultural Minister VS Sunilkumar said.

G Rajan, a vendor and sugarcane farmer in Marayoor, said he hopes the GI tag will help the Marayoor farmers get more market and price. “Currently, the farmers receive only Rs 45 to 47 per kilo of jaggery. But to ensure the success of the sugarcane farming, the farmers must get at least Rs 80 to Rs 100 per kilo,” Rajan told TNM.

One of the major challenges these farmers have been facing is the sale of fake jaggery from Tamil Nadu, which are being sold with the tag of Marayaoor jaggery. This has led to the constant fall in the price of the original jaggery, thus forcing several farmers not to take up sugarcane cultivation anymore.

Read: Idukki's special Marayoor jaggery faces threat from knockoffs, falling prices

“The government must take steps to control this practice. The food security department must conduct routine checks at the checkposts. If such practices are curbed, it will help us get more market and price and we hope the GI tag will play a role in this,” added Rajan.

Marayoor ‘Unda Sharkarai’ (Marayoor Jaggery) is one of the sweetest jaggeries produced in Idukki. Made using only traditional methods, it is dark brown in colour, high in sweetness and iron, with less sodium content and insoluble impurities.

The Marayoor jaggery is not produced in modern factories or using modern equipment. It is prepared in sheds located on the sugarcane farm.

Over 1,000 farmers in Marayoor area engaged in sugarcane cultivation. A few years ago,  places near Marayoor, like Pattam Colony, Mashi, Koodavayal and Meladi, too, started cultivating sugarcane widely.

With fake products taking over the market, the number of farmers in the sector has reduced, so has the sugarcane farming area. From 2,700 acres, it has reduced to 1,200 acres.

With the GI tag, the central government has approved the product and it will provide more marketing facility to India and abroad. The Marayoor Jaggery will also be available in government stalls.

“Also, with the status, only the natives of the area can produce and market the product exclusively. Presently, the farmers are receiving enquiries from various parts. If anyone produces or markets fake Jaggery as Marayoor jaggery, the sugarcane farmers can legally challenge that,” says CR Elsi, professor and coordinator, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) cell, Kerala Agricultural University.