On Wednesday, August 11, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) facilitated export of dehydrated Mohua flower from India’s Chhattisgarh to France. It is also the first time, a consignment of dehydrated Mohua flower was exported via sea to France from Chhattisgarh.
The produce, sourced from the forests in Korba district, Chhattisgarh was processed by APEDA registered enterprise. Furthermore, the tribal population from forest of Korba, Kathghora, Surguja, Pasan, Pali, Churri in Chhattisgarh, were involved in the collection of Mohua flowers that was exported.
Established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act, APEDA comes under the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
Mohua, the indigenous flower
The indigenous Mohua or Madhuca Longifolia flowers, is a deciduous tree abundantly found in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and parts of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. It is known differently in different parts of the country, namely, Mahua or Mowarh in the north, Mahul in Odisha and Illipi in the south.
These are rich sources of natural sugars. This property of the plant makes it fit for liquor production by the tribal people besides being used in various food products, such as Mahua ladoo, barfi, kheer, sweet puri, jams, mohua oil and as grain staple. The fresh flowers along with spent flowers (generated after fermentation processes) are also used as livestock feed and does not affect their yield and quality of milk.
The dehydrated Mohua flowers are used for making liquor, medicine & syrup. According to a study by researchers from Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Mahuain medicine has been curing people since ages such as in rakhtpitta, diarrhoea and skin diseases and as aphrodisiac, galactagogue, carminative, antihelmenthic, antibacterial and antioxidant.
How is the export’s Significant?
Mohua export from the country is a big boost to the cultivators and suppliers of the plant. The indigenous plant plays a significant role in the lives of people dependent on it for livelihood, especially the indigenous peoples. Further, it also opens up scope to be utilized for industrial activities.
The export of the flowers, in addition to benefiting the farmers, will also give recognition to the indigenous plant. Furthermore, it is also a positive development towards the export of agricultural produce from non-traditional regions.
Exploring the potential of Mohua flower
For Industrial Sector: The flowers are fermented to prepare alcoholic drinks. The flowers can be used as a substitute of conventional preparation of distillate liquor, portable spirits, vinegar and other products made from cane sugar. The dry Mohua flowers have been used in production of alcohol, brandy, acetone, ethanol, lactic acid and various other fermented products.
In the rural and tribal areas, various parts of the plant is extensively used for different purposes. Further, it can also be used as a sweetening agent due to its sweet property.
Employment Provider: The export also boosts the income potential of small ruminant farmers, their livelihood and enhances the economic status. The processing of the flower includes operations like collection of flowers, drying, stamen removal, storage and marketing in the post-harvest phase. This is a source of income and employment generation for women and people dependent on it.
Nutritional Value: The flower is also a rich and affordable source of nutrition and contain vitamins like A and C. Being a rich source of sugar, proteins, vitamins and minerals, Mahua flowers are eaten raw or when cooked. According to studies, vitamins like riboflavin and niacin content in the flower is more than that of apple, banana, mango and raisin. Various minerals like Ca, P, Fe and K are also found in the flowers (Patel and Naik, 2010).
Exports Map of India: Chhattisgarh is home to a large population of indigeouns peoples or the tribal. In a unique initiative to boost export of produce from tribal regions, the export of Mohua puts non-exporting places of the plant on map of India in terms of export. The State majorly exports rice in terms of agriculture products.
Tribal Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (TRIFED) had also signed an MoU with IIT-Delhi to source, the Mohua drink (infused with flavours) derived from the Mohua flower, from Bastar and sold under the brand name Mahua. This opens up opportunities for the State and the Mohua tree.
Recent Exports from India
APEDA recently facilitated the export of dragon fruit from Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal to the United Kingdom, King of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. It also exported the naga Mircha from Nagaland to London for the first time.