SHIVAMOGGA: In these times of distress, especially for farmers with large amounts of produce and no takers, here is a hotelier-and-agriculturist from Shivamogga district who has come out with a “sweet” solution to tide over the crisis.
Jayaram Shetty, who has grown watermelon in eight acres of land at Nittur in Hosanagara taluk, has hit upon an idea of making jaggery from the sweet fruit. The method he uses is exactly like how jaggery is extracted from sugarcane which is the traditional way.
The 42-year-old Jayaram, who was running a hotel in Mumbai and was living in the metropolis for 30 years, returned to his village last year during the lockdown, and started cultivating his family land. Now, running a hotel at Nittur, he told TNIE, “We grew watermelon in four acres of land last year, but there were no takers because of the restrictions. Finally, some traders from Kerala purchased the stock at `4 per kg, which was very low. That is when I and my staff at the hotel extracted the jaggery. We used it in some dishes and we liked it. This year, I grew watermelon on my four acres and also another four acres of my friend’s farm. But traders wanted it for `1 per kg, and I decided to make more jaggery this year.”
Explaining the process, he said that juice is extracted from the fruit and filtered twice. The juice is then boiled for four hours or till it becomes thick. Around 75 kg of jaggery can be extracted from one tonne of watermelon.
He said, “I have a stock of 250 kg of jaggery now. But I am not sure of its shelf life, It has continued to taste good even after five days. If one wants to keep it longer, they can store it in a refrigerator.”
Shetty requested the government to conduct more research on his process and make it a commercial success. “Then, a large number of farmers will benefit,” he said.