The farmers in Jhenidah district harvest about 1000 tones of date molasses for an amount of approximate Taka 12 crore every year. Patronization from the government side might expand the farming which could help strengthen the socio-economic state of the farmers in remote villages, said the farmers.
According to a source available in the office of the deputy director of the department of agriculture extension (DAE) in Jhenidah, a total of 121,285 date plants were reported to them in the district. Upazila wise breakup of the plants was 28,528 in Jhenidah Sadar, 14,760 in Kaliganj, 25,000 in Kotchandpur, 40,000 in bordering Moheshpur, 7,5000 in Shailkupa and 5,000 in Harinakundu upazila.
A number of date juice extractors at Kulla village in Harinakundu upazila told Bangladesh Post taht the farmers in the area usually do not plant saplings of date plants commercially. Rather, the plants grow on the ridge of lands and fallow lands where major caring is not ensured.
As the number of plants was decreasing from the area, local juice extractors do not show eagerness to nurse or take care of the same. Some professional extractors from Rajshahi and some other northern districts rush immediate before the winter and nurse the same for juice. They also prepare molasses or cake with the juice.
Elderly farmer Alim Uddin of Dakbangla area of Jhenidah Sadar upazila said the government initiatives to encourage the farmers for date juice production or nursing the plats is not visible as they care for agriculture crops in the field. Alim Uddin said the government have been importing huge quantity of sugar. The people of the country have been consuming worst quality of sugar at a higher prices from the market. But patronization of the date plants might reduce the pressure for import. It will also reduce the living cost of the consumers.
Ramjan Ali, a resident of Bagmara in Rajshahi, engaged in extracting date juice at Mandartala village of Harinakundu, said the quality of date juice is better in Jhenidah, Jashore and Narail areas. Hundreds of date extractors form northern belt rush in the south-western districts immediate before the winter for date juice harvesting. DAE deputy director in Jhenidah Kripangshu Sekhar Biswas when contacted said they have been encouraging the farmers to plant date and palm plants for juice, molasses and cake production. It has a potential for the country, specially, the farmers to meet up the demand of sugar partially.
DAE deputy director added not only the molasses, but also about 20 per cent of the raw juice is consumed orally by the people both in rural and urban area every year. Huge tasty and local lucrative cakes (pitha), rice made sweetmeats and Payesh are produced with the juice in the area during the winter.