Mahua flower’ turns as a boon for several families residing in forestry terrain of Jharkhand in this sizzling summer.
Off-white flowers of ‘Mahua’ is not plucked from the trees normally falls on the ground and is picked up by the poor tribal, mostly forest dwellers, who have to earn their livelihood basically from forest produces. Apart from Mahua, these poor people also depend on collecting Sal seeds and Kendu leaves to eke out a living.
Now, this is the joyful moments for few families residing in Kasdari Tola, a small village in Junodih under Nawadih block in Bokaro district when blistering hot waves forced peoples to stayed indoors in this sizzling summer.
Among 100 odd inhabitants residing at Junodih the twenty-four families of Gram Tola, however, thrive mostly on good flowering on the ‘Mahua’ trees which normally flowers during the month of March-April. The entire family members of those families from 5years to 71 years old get involved in the collection of these fallen flowers right from sunrise till sunset.
Ramchander, a local and one of them supervises the pickings proudly told that these families
We have been collecting Mahua since from past generations, we used to collect Mahua in small cane baskets and stored at one place. The flower is sold off at about 30 to 35 rupees per kilo, said Ramchandra one among the dwellers.
“The older flowers (after drying up) sold off at higher the price; one-year-old Mahua is sold at around 45-55 rupees per kilo”, he added.
After drying Mahua flowers also stored for later use. With their high sugar content, they are perfect as a sweetener. Several big restaurants also used Mahua; adding a couple of dried or crystallised pieces to a bowl of vanilla ice cream to give a touch of the exotic, said Binod another villager.
The flower is generally purchased for making a local alcoholic brew, the favorite amongst the Adivasis. The flower is also cooked and consumed as a food, he said.
“Mahua provides lots of energy, it also considered as safe for the diabetic patients”, added Sujit.
Apart from the flower, the fruit is also very useful while the seeds of the fruits are used for extracting cooking oil for all kinds of frying. The oil is locally known as ‘Dori’, he said.
“Everyday we (all) collects around 25-30 kgs of Mahua flowers, apart from the collection we also grow our own grains; we are hopeful of a better rainy season and good harvest this year”, said Hari.
Meanwhile, Mahua has been included both under the Minor Forest Produce (Regulation of Trade) Act and the Patent Act. As per statutory provisions, no one should be allowed to stock more than two quintals of Mahua flowers, which facilitates distress sale of the forest produce, said a forest official.
‘Mahua’ flowers are one of the forest products that bring them (dwellers) a high income by selling it.