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Attention Goa’s feni and Russia’s vodka! The BJP-led government in Assam headed by Sarbananda Sonowal is planning to promote the state’s numerous traditional tribal brews in such a manner so as to beat both feni and vodka.
Stating this in the state’s annual budget for 2016-17, state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that while the tribal brews were healthy and possessed high medicinal values, the government was looking at conducting proper research on these brews, ensure standard manufacturing practices and package them in such attractive manner so that those can compete with feni and vodka. Sarma however did not specify when he plans to make this a reality.
“Assam’s strength lies in its colourful culture and diverse ethnicity. The products pouring out of such diversity are many. As a government, we are determined to build the economy deeply entrenched into the ethnicity of the state. There are several tribal brews which are healthy and of high medicinal values,” Sarma said, proposing to conduct proper research before of course actually putting those brews out for sale.
He said the government would conduct proper research on these tribal brews in order to ensure standardization, hygiene and proper bottling in attractive package. “Such products will be promoted as licenced items to be sold in permitted shops and establishments. These products can beat feni of Goa, heritage wine of Rajasthan, vodka of Russia and many other brands,” finance minister Sarma, who also holds the health and education portfolios in the BJP-led government, said.
The minister said the initiative – which will promote the local ethnic brews as Heritage Liquor – would also help counter illicit country liquor which he said were “more injurious” than the local brews. “Our government will also consider the proposals for licensing the sale of local brews. It will be a good source of increasing the income level of traditional families and also conserve the heritage,” minister Sarma claimed.
Different ethnic communities in Assam prepare different kinds of traditional brews, most of them from fermented rice. While the Ahom community makes lao-paani, the Bodos call theirs jou. The Rabha community calls theirs choko or jonga-mod, and the Mishings apong, while what the Dimasa people make is known as judima.