Tamarind cakes aid incomes of tribal women in Odisha's Rayagada

Tribal residents in Odisha’s Rayagada are able to supplement their livelihoods by producing tasty and marketable cakes from using tamarind which is abundantly found in the forest areas of Bissamcuttack and Kashipur blocks. Details here.

Ashis SenapatiAshis Senapati   28 July 2022 2:37 PM GMT

Tamarind cakes aid incomes of tribal women in Odishas Rayagada

The ORMAS’ initiative to support the tribal livelihoods began in 2021 with the formation of 11 ‘producer groups’ which involved around 600 tribal women. All photos by Manoj Patra

Manasi Gomanga, a tribal resident of Bisamacuttack block of Odisha's Rayagada district was earlier restricted to cooking and looking after her children but ever since she has begun making cakes from tamarind, she is instilled with a sense of pride in her work.

"Ever since I have begun to contribute to my family's meagre earnings by making tamarind cakes, I can see a new-found respect for myself in the eyes of my husband and children. Our living conditions have improved and we are now able to save Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 every month," Gomanga told Gaon Connection.

Gomanga is amongst an estimated 600 women in Bissamcuttack and Kashipur blocks of Odisha's Rayagada district who have been encouraged by the Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS) to earn a livelihood by using the abundant tamarind which is found throughout the forests situated in the two blocks.

"Tamarind trees are widely available in the district. In absence of adequate marketing facilities, tribal people were compelled to sell tamarind at throwaway prices to middlemen and traders. So, in 2021, we decided to organise the systematic production of tamarind cakes and provided market linkage to poor tribals living in the two blocks," Manoj Kumar Patra, the deputy chief executive of ORMAS in Rayagada, told Gaon Connection.

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Tribal women peeling off tamarind to separate it from the seeds. While seedless tamarind fetches a higher price, its seeds are also high in demand for their commercial and pharmaceutical uses.

Patra added that ever since the tribal women have been encouraged to participate in the ORMAS initiative, the production of tamarind has increased which has ushered in better incomes for the local residents.

"Also, the increased production is met with unprecedented demand due to market linkage. We are able to access far off markets both within and outside the state. We get orders from many reputed food companies for our tamarind cakes. We are also selling tamarind seeds to many pharmaceutical companies," Patra said.

Financial incentive provided to set up producer groups

The ORMAS' initiative to support the tribal livelihoods began with the formation of 11 'producer groups' which involved around 600 tribal women.

"ORMAS provided Rs 100,00 as working capital to each producer group. Also, equipment worth Rs 100,000 was provided to each of these groups for capacity building to facilitate efficient production and packaging," Patra told Gaon Connection.

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The official informed that the tamarind seeds fetch a price of Rs 12 per kilogramme (kg) and a tamarind cake weighing 500 grams costs Rs 78.

A packet of packaged tamarind cake produced by ORMAS.

"In the tamarind harvesting season which extends from May to June, the tribal population collected a total of 156 metric tonnes of tamarind from the forests in the Rayagada district and sold it to us at Rs 36 per kilogram which is the minimum support price fixed by the state government," Nikunj Bihari Pradhan, the Chief Executive Officer of Rayagada-based Dharti Producers Company, told Gaon Connection.

"Few years back, the tribals used to sell tamarind far below the MSP to the middlemen and traders. Tribal women peel off the seeds from the tamarind at our centre. We sell seedless tamarind at Rs 62 per kilogram. We are also providing them with technical support to prepare tamarind cakes .Thanks to the huge demands of tamarind cakes and seeds, large numbers of tribal families are getting additional incomes," he added.

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Multifaceted uses of tamarind

Tamarind seeds contain potassium that can be useful for patients suffering from hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Also, tamarind seeds' juice is known to be a natural remedy to cure indigestion and increase bile production.

Ever since the tribal women have been encouraged to participate in the ORMAS initiative, the production of tamarind has increased which has ushered in better incomes for the local residents.

Moreover, it is rich in dietary fibre, which further results in reduction of cholesterol. The red outer cover of the tamarind seed cures diarrhoea and dysentery effectively. Extracts of tamarind seeds also contain xyloglucan which is used in the commercial preparation of many cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. They are topically used for treating minor skin rashes as well.

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