Date gurh a boon for many Rajshahi people

24 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

RAJSHAHI: Date juice collection along with processing gurh (molasses) has become vibrant everywhere, generating employment opportunities for more than one lakh people in the region despite the adverse impact of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic situation.

Date juice extraction along with its follow-up business including processing has also become boon for many people as they are dependent on it for long in terms of improving their living and livelihood condition in the region.

Sweet date juice is a natural and very delicate drink in winter. Large numbers of date juice extractors begin extracting delicious juice from the date trees every year. Now, they are spending a lot of time to extract the juice.

The date-tree farmers, locally known as ‘gachhis’, are passing busy times in collecting date-juice and processing molasses at present.

Local villagers said three upazilas like Charghat, Bagha and Puthiya in Rajshahi district are famous for date-molasses. The trading of date-molasses is going on in full swing as winter approaches its gravity.

Produced molasses by the farmers in the three upazilas are exported to many foreign countries escalating the rural economy.

Shamsul Haque, deputy director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), said there are more than 0.8 million date trees in the district producing around 8,000 tonnes of molasses valued around Taka 600 million every season. There are a number of 0.39 million trees in Charghat upazila followed by 0.29 million in Bagha upazila and 85,000 in Puthiya upazila.

There are also many other date trees on roadside, railway tracks and on fallow lands and homesteads while date-molasses are produced commercially.

Haque said the farmers collect the juice accumulated in the clay pot overnight. They evaporate the juice by heating it the next morning to make solid (Patali gurh) or thick-slurry (Jhola gurh).

He said a farmer can produce 20 to 25 kg of molasses from a single date-tree in a season. As there is no need for extra care of the trees, so it may be a very profitable business.

He added that regular in-taking of sugar or molasses with rice and other nutritious foods is very essential for humans, especially the children for developing their merit.

Firoj Ali, a date juice harvester of Gaigirpara village under Puthiya upazila, said he has no any date tree for his own. Every season, he manages permission to collect juice from 120 trees of others at a cost of Taka 175.

Ali processed around 25 kilograms of molasses from the collected juice every day. He meets his annual family needs with getting profit doing the seasonal molasses business.

Suman Sarker, a molasses wholesaler at Jhalmalia Hat in the same upazila, said the volume of molasses on every hat days is more than Taka 10 million.

He said blacksmiths are busy making sharp crescent shaped machetes that are used in cleaning and peeling off layers from the neck of the date tree for extraction of juice.

Potters are struggling to supply specially designed small earthen pots for collection of juice and big ones for boiling the juice to produce molasses, which are sold in markets all over the country through traders.

Suman Sarker hoped that the business will play a vital role to change the socio-economic picture of the whole region if everybody comes forward to plant the trees in fallow land.

Trader Anwar Hossain, who comes to Bagha Bazar from Barisal every year to purchase molasses, told journalists that he purchased 40 mounds of molasses at Taka 60 per kilogram.

Mohsin Ali, a retailer at the same market, said he sold molasses at Taka 65 per kilogram last week and the retail price is now on downtrend with rising production.

He said the farmers of the upazila send molasses to different areas of the country including the capital every year. If they can expand the business, they would achieve huge profit and change their socio-economic conditions.