Q.1 Sir, could you please tell our readers about the market potential for the processing of forest-based products especially for the products made from the processing of Tamarind and Mahua?

Forest products consumption in India experienced a considerable growth in the last two decades. Commercial NTFPs (Non-timber Forest Products) are estimated to generate Rs. 3 billion (US$ 100 million) annually in India. India exports a large number of NTFPs to other countries earning foreign exchange revenue to the tune of Rs. 10 billion (IIFM publication). India holds a monopoly in world trade over some of the NTFPs such as Karaya gum (Sterculia urens), Myrobalans (Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula), Sandalwood chips and dust (Santalum album). There is high demand in the domestic market as well as in the export market for products of Tamarind and Mahua. High-value products could be developed by further value addition. A profitable market mechanism like market linkage and collective marketing needs to be developed. Development in this sector will benefit from the promotion of entrepreneurship through value addition activities and the formation of SHGs.

The national wholesale market rate is around Rs. 75-85 per kg for seedless Tamarind. For Mahua flowers the rate is around Rs. 50 per kg and for Mahua seeds it is around Rs. 35 per kg.

The products of Tamarind have high market demand particularly in South India as well as overseas with high export potential. It is widely used in Indian cooking. Similarly, Mahua has emerged as one of the most important NTFP owing to the seasonality of the produce and also due to cultural significance and as a result, it is ranked topmost. Mahua flowers provide the most crucial income during the summer and monsoon months when income generation possibilities are limited and a substantial amount of time and upfront cost is required foragriculture. It is during the most deficient months that Mahua becomes the most essential income source for the rural population.

Q.2 What are the major value-added products that can be made using Tamarind and Mahua?

Mahua flowers - Alcohol, Vinegar, artificial sweetener, barfi, laddu, halwa, sauce, jams, chutney and many other edible products.

Mahua seeds - Oil, soap manufacturing units, animal feed, seed cake, biodiesel.

Tamarind - Pulp used for edible purposes like jam, pickle, toffees and candy, juice concentrate and it can be used as a natural colourant as well.

Q.3 Could you please tell us about the Tamarind and Mahua-based research and development carried out by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) and interesting research outcomes that you have come across in all these years?

Research projects have been carried out on value addition in Mahua and Tamarind by different institutes of ICFRE. Flowers of Mahua were used to produce various edible products like Mahua sauce, Mahua jam and Mahua squash (FRC-SD, Chhindwara). For the sauce along with Mahua flowers, Tamarind puree was also added. At AFRI, Jodhpur, squash, chutney and jam were prepared from pods of Tamarind. Studies on the shelf life of value-added products of both revealed that there was consistency in taste and no change in colour was observed in all the products.

Evaluation of promising clones of Tamarind for higher fruit productivity has been carried out (IFGTB). 135 accessions with high sucrose content (sweet Tamarind) and anthocyanin pigment (red Tamarind) were evaluated.

Tara Red – A natural colourant has been developed from Tamarindus indica and can be used for food, textile and cosmetics.

Q.4 With the immense experience that you have gathered over the period, how do you think the PMFME Scheme would be able to empower micro food processing enterprises?

Food products manufactured by the rural entrepreneurs in the villages have a long tradition of supplying Indian food products to the local population.  Major problems that micro food processing enterprises face are lack of institutional credit, market access, quality control, and logistic support. Micro food processing enterprises need financial and technical support for technological upgradation that is addressed in the PMFME Scheme. Capacity building of SHGs/ FPOs/ Cooperatives for locally important products will help them for the realisation of higher income. Credit linked subsidy, capacity building and marketing & branding support is likely to enhance competitiveness among micro food processing enterprises. This scheme will also help the micro food processing enterprises by providing training and skill upgradation of the entrepreneurs.

Q.5 What would be your advice to aspiring food processing entrepreneurs?

Aspiring entrepreneurs should keep in mind existing markets and demand for their products while selecting the processing of food products. Entrepreneurs should concentrate on developing industries based on locally available products for example Mahua, Aonla, Tamarind, etc. Common infrastructure facilities such as storage and transportation should be developed at village levels that could be shared by all local entrepreneurs. A web portal could be established where all aspiring food processing entrepreneurs can share their ideas and discuss their issues.

About Shri. A. S. Rawat, IFS, Director General, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)

Shri Arun Singh Rawat is the Director General of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), an Autonomous Council under the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Government of India. He belongs to the 1986 Batch of Indian Forest Service from Jharkhand cadre and has held several positions of prominence including Director, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, India, Deputy Director General (Administration), ICFRE, Dehradun, India and Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Palamau Tiger Reserve, Jharkhand, India, Group Coordinator (Research) and Head (Silviculture) at Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, India for seven years.

About the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)

Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Govt. of India and is an apex body in the national forestry research system. It has been undertaking the holistic development of forestry research through need-based planning, promoting, conducting and coordinating research, education and extension covering various aspects of forestry. The council deals with the solutions-based forestry research in tune with the emerging issues in the sector, including global concerns such as climate change, conservation of biological diversity, combating desertification and sustainable management and development of resources. Topical research by the Council enhances public confidence in the ability of forest managers and researchers to successfully handle challenges related to natural resource management. ICFRE has nine Research Institutes and five Research Centres located in different bio-geographical regions of the country for catering to the forestry research needs of the nation.

(Content shared by Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the above guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.