SIRSI: Jagruti Prathisthan, a voluntary organisation based in Bakkal near here, has come out with an oven that will help save fuelwood in the extraction of hydroxyl citric acid (HCA) from fresh uppage fruit.
More than 100 tonnes of HCA is exported every year and for this uppage from the Uttar Kannada forests, particularly from Halsinakoppa, Gonsar, Hundetota and Shirguni villages of Sirsi taluk, is used in substantial quantities.
As much as 50,000 tonnes of fuelwood is being used in Uttar Kannada district for the extraction of HCA as under the prevailing open-fire system 22 kg of fuelwood is needed to dry 1 kg of uppage husk.
The new ovens would not require firewood at all and is eco-friendly. The unit involves extracting juice from fresh uppage fruit and would result in more income for those who are dependent on the collection of non-timber forest produce for their livelihood.
The processing units would help process produce such as fresh uppage, murugulu and suragi, to give more HCA content than the drying process, and will have an edge of the present method in terms of quality.
The Prathisthan aims at fetching a good price and thus helping to improve the life of collectors of minor forest produce.
Units would also be set up in other districts, said MM Hegde Bakkal, the president of Jagruti Prathisthan. Narasimha Hegde, who has done extensive work on NTFP and is a project officer and director of the the voluntary organisation Life, says that for the first time in the country juice has been extracted from fresh uppage fruit. Now efforts are on to process such juice to extract HCA on a commercial basis.
The process does not require firewood and this adds to its importance, he said.
Jam, jelly, juice and pickle could be produced by processing HCA from uppage, murugulu, arishina andi and dyavanige, Hegde said. If women and self-help group members are trained to produce and market the HCA, it would provide substantial additional income and help uplift their financial condition Hegde pointed out. The project is being undertaken by the Prathisthan under the guidance of conservator of forests Canara circle, Subhash Malked, deputy conservator of forests Sirsi subdivision Manoj Kumar, Vasudev of the Forestry College, Sirsi, and BS Somashekhar of the Foundation for Rural and Local Health Tradition, Bangalore.