Dhaka, Tuesday, 24 May 2022

‘Khejur gur- patali’ producers, entrepreneurs active in Jashore

‘Khejur gur- patali’ producers, entrepreneurs active in Jashore

Ujjal Biswas, Jashore: Every year winter comes with khejur ros (date juice), khejur gur (date molasses) and patali (solid chunks of date molasses, the best quality of which is called nalini patali) in Jashore and its adjoining districts including Jhenidah, Narail, Magura, Satkhira and Khulna.

But it is a matter of sad that millions of date trees in regions were cut down in the last couple of years. Thus, the winter 'gachhies' (date juice extractors and producers) have changed the occupations and thus the production of khejur ros has decreased alarmingly. But the demand for khejur gur here has remained the same.

Some date trees are still alive which represent the tradition of the district which has been officially branded as 'flower fair of various colours, Jashore district of date molasses'.

In the ongoing winter, gachhies are now busy to collect khejur ros from date trees and entrepreneurs of the district are coming forward to bring back the old tradition.

Smriti Biswas is one of them and a chief executive of Desi Feriwala, an online f-commerce platform. She said, “We have surveyed to find the way to uphold the tradition of producing gur of the district and found that decreasing number of date trees and difficulties to collect khejur ros are the main reasons for dropping off this tradition.”

Without skill, good quality khejur gur and patali cannot be produced. But most of the skilled gachhies who once did this work with their expertise died. Earlier, the children of the gachhies used to do this by learning from them. As there is the opportunity to earn more money with less labour in other jobs, the children of them are no longer interested in the difficult task of collecting sap from date trees. In this situation, this tradition of the district is heading towards extinction, she explained.

Giving importance on the price, she said, “We have to make proper plan to make juice collection and khejur gur-making work commercially profitable. Otherwise, the new generation will not be interested in it. If the producers only sell khejur gur in the local market, they will not get a good price. So, need to use modern technology to address it.”

This is exactly what we are doing now. Efforts have also been made to ensure good prices for the gachhies. We are delivering Jashore's khejur gur- patali to different parts of the country, especially to the metropolitan areas, in the winter season according to the demand of the buyers, through an e-commerce site deshiferiwala.com, Smriti Biswas added.

Zakir Hossain is a resident of Dhaka's Keraniganj who came in Jashore for long time ago. Though he left here, he did not forget the taste of khejur gur and patali. Trying to meet the needs of people like him, Desi Feriwala is doing a good job. Living in the capital, he is now happy to get pure khejur gur from its website.

Regarding the collection process, Rahul Dev Sur, director of Desi Feriwala, said, "We have organized a group with dozens of gachhies in Bagharpara and Basundia areas of the district. Our staff is working with them. As a result, there is no way to produce adulterated gur. So, the gur we collect from these gachhies is a little higher than the local market price.”

Dipankar Das, chief operating officer of Desi Feriwala, said, "The gachhies used to earn Tk40 to Tk50 more by mixing adulterated one kg of gur. Our statement is clear to them - gur cannot be adulterated. The extra profit that the gachhies used to make by adulteration will be compensated if they can sell pure gur at a fair price. In this process, we gain the trust of the buyers.”

“There is also a huge demand for gur among the expatriates. They communicate us through www.facebook/deshiferiwala .Many also can get the product by contacting the hotline 01958-305010," Dipankar added.

Khejur gur and patali have a great demand all over the country and a large quantity of them is sent to different other parts of the country during the winter season. Experts suggest that date trees have to be increased and new gachhies have to be made through training.