The government is set to launch a mahua-based alcoholic beverage in the market for the first time. Called Mahua Nutribeverage, it will be available as early as next month for Rs 700 for a 750 ml bottle, and will come in six fruit-based flavours.
The beverage has a high nutritional value and relatively low alcohol content, at 5 per cent. It has been developed by IIT-Delhi after two years of research in collaboration with TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India). Pravir Krishna, MD, TRIFED, said, “We are currently awaiting licenses from the excise department after which it will be sold at all the five Tribes India outlets in Delhi.” He added that even as they plan to sell the beverage across the country, each state will have to acquire the relevant clearances on its own.
TRIFED has signed a memorandum with National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) to undertake the assignment of technology transfer to the suitable entrepreneurs for production and marketing of the beverage. The federation is planning to distribute this technology to parties selected by NRDC to set up such enterprises so that they can own these enterprises to produce the beverage. Initially, Adivasi Bahuuddeshiya Co-operative (ABC) Society, Raigarh, entered into a MoU with NRDC on March 6, 2020, to produce and market the beverage.
The marketing is being undertaken under the Tribal Affairs Ministry’s value-addition scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur in 2018. Called the Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram, Rs 500-600 crore has been earmarked under the nation-wide programme for training tribal clusters to add value to their produce and sell it in a packaged format, aiming to increase their income manifold. Besides mahua, sourced mostly from Bastar in Chhattisgarh, other tribal staples such as tamarind and amla will be de-seeded and brought to the market in the form of candies and jams.
According to Krishna, the products marketed under the scheme include only those that need primary-level processing, including handicrafts, textiles, food items, jams and pulps, and jewellery.
“What Amul did for milk, we want to do for non-timber forest produce through this scheme. Milk sold as milk wouldn’t have got the people of Anand anything. But if you turn it into yoghurt, ice-cream, desserts, the income increases manifold. That’s the model we will replicate,” Krishna said.
Earlier, TRIFED, which was entrusted with setting up of Van Dhan Vikas Kendras to implement the scheme, tied up with IIT-Delhi to use mahua flower syrup to create chutney, jam, squash and non-alcoholic beverages. The resultant Tamarind-Mahua Candy and pickle thus produced has been identified for bulk supply to Air India.
This is the first time, however, that the ministry is getting into bottling and sale of alcoholic beverages.
Mahuwa (Madhuca indica) is a prominent forest tree in tribal areas of Bastar and plays an important role in the rural economy. The mahuwa flowers are a rich source of sugars and are said to contain vitamins, minerals and calcium. The flowers are fermented and distilled yielding spirituous liquor also known as ‘country beer’. An estimated 90 per cent of annual production of Mahuwa flower is used in the process of brewing beverages.
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