This summer, ice apple growers in Odisha make hay while the sun shines
To beat the heat and overcome discomfort caused due to the heatwave, people in villages and towns have increased the consumption of ice apple, locally called ‘taalsaja’, which is a source of income for several sugar palm tree farmers in the eastern state.
Ashis Senapati 7 Jun 2022 9:40 AM GMT
A heatwave is sweeping across several parts of the country and the active monsoon is still some days away. In this peak summer season, the growing demand for ice apples, locally called 'taalsaja' in Odisha, has brought cheers to sugar palm tree owners in Kendrapara district of Odisha.
To beat the heat and overcome the discomfort caused due to the heatwave, people have increased the consumption of ice apples (known as Tadgola in Marathi and Hindi, and Nungu in Tamil).
"Mercury levels are soaring with every passing day because of which there is a huge demand for taalsaja. I sold around six hundred taalsaja within two days. And the rate of each ice apple is ten rupees," 52-year-old Nagendra Behera, an ice apple seller at Kendrapara, told Gaon Connection.
"Many people in rural areas prefer green coconut and ice apple to quench their thirst in the summer," said 48-year-old Ashok Das, another ice apple seller from Marsaghai town in Kendrapara.
Health benefits of ice apple
Ice apples are a perfect summer fruit because of their cooling effect. It is a jelly-like juicy fruit (with texture like litchi) and is packed with essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, phytonutrients, and calcium. The low-calorie fruit also contains fibre, protein, and several vitamins. It also contains a range of minerals like iron, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. Not just a perfect summer fruit, nutritionists also term it a superfood.
"Scorching days of summer can be quite uncomfortable and cause dehydration. In such a situation, consuming ice apples has a cooling effect on the body and can help combat dehydration naturally," said GC Dash, a retired medical doctor based in Kendrapara. "Ice apples are packed with vitamins and minerals which are essential for a strong immune system," he added.
"The juice inside the ice apple contains a lot of nutrients and it helps protect a person from sunstroke and dehydration," Sarat Sahoo, a resident of Kendrapara, told Gaon Connection.
Ice apple: A source of living
The rising heat has lifted the mood of sugar palm tree growers in the state, who, after two years of the pandemic, hope to earn well this summer season. A large number of poor villagers in Odisha eke out their living by selling ice apples in the summer season.
"I collected over five hundred ice apples from my two palm trees last week and earned around five thousand rupees," said Bijaya Behera, an ice apple seller from Kendrapara town.
"Nowadays it is difficult to get palm tree climbers to collect ice apples from the trees. Youths are not interested in climbing trees and we have to depend on old people. A tree climber charges between hundred and two hundred rupees to climb a palm tree," Nalinikanta Sethi, a palm tree owner in Kendrapara told Gaon Connection.
"Traditionally, ice apples have been a prime source of income for around ten thousand families in the coastal district of Kendrapara in the summer season," Tapan Behera, a palm tree owner from Kendrapara said. "But the situation has changed dramatically in recent years. Now around five thousand people depend on palm tree farming as many palm trees were uprooted in a series of cyclones since 1999," he added.
To make hay while the sun shines, fruit vendors have strategically placed ice apples at busy roads and market places to quench the thirst of passerby people and help them beat the heat, said Agani Behera, an ice apple seller from Pattamundai in Kendrapara.