Kalappa Gangappa Arekere – value addition improves farm revenues

Becomes jaggery maker to increase the farm income

“Sugar factories never make the payments on time and they do not have fixed rate for sugarcane therefore we started processing sugarcane into jaggery ourselves from the first year itself. As we are processing jaggery at home, our income is better when compared to selling sugarcane to the factories. We understand sugar rate are subject to change in the market but sugar factories pay us quite low. In the beginning it was Rs. 2500/quintal, then reduced to Rs.2000 and later Rs. 1800 however this year we have not still received the payment. Thereby only excess sugarcane that we are unable to process is sent to sugar factories and for the same we keep waiting for the payments. It is a tiresome task to keep waiting and following up for the payments,” highlights Mr. Kalappa Gangappa Arakere, farmer based near Hosur, Bagalkot District, Karnataka.

In Mr. Kalappa’s 18acre farm sugarcane, turmeric, tomato and brinjal are cultivated. “We grow sugarcane in 10acre, turmeric 3 acre, tomato and brinjal in 1 acre each and rest of the land is used processing. I decided to grow these two vegetables because it is low maintenance crop and has fairly good market. As turmeric is grown as main crop it enriches the soil with medicinal properties thus disease and pest attack is less,” he shares. Farming practice is predominately cow-based farming however little quantity of chemicals is used once in a while, “We use mostly cattle and pit manure.”

It has been 20 years sugarcane is grown in the farm. The variety grown is Mira 86 and 09. “Yield of these two sugarcane varieties is high and quality of sugarcane is good such that when we make jaggery from it the production is more.” 60 ton/acre is sugarcane yield thus annually 600 ton sugarcane is produced in the farm. 3 tons sugarcane seedling is required for an acre. To enrich the soil cattle manure needed is 10 trailer tractors. “By using cattle manure we can harvest sugarcane in 9months and attain 3-4 harvest with the same root,” he elaborates.

Sugarcane processing is done on a 3 acre land. The processing unit was set up with an investment of Rs. 10 lakh without any subsidy. “Within two hours 2 quintal of jaggery is produced. We the repeat the process 4-5 times in a day thus 8-10 quintal jaggery is our daily production,” he informs. Every day 8-10quintals jaggery is made from 8-10 tons sugarcane. It continues for 3-4months in a year.

Speaking about selling little quantity of sugarcane to sugar factories he says, “We have to deliberately sell 200-300 ton sugarcane to sugar factory because of low production capacity at our processing unit. Presently we have a single boiler. To process entire sugarcane yield we would need more boilers to carry out the process. However an additional boiler would cost us Rs. 8-10lakhs hence we sell little quantity of sugarcane to the factories.”

Post extracting the juice from sugarcane the left behind waste is used in fire as fuel to boil the cane juice. Sugarcane waste provides high heat and leads to zero wastage. When asked about adding chemicals in jaggery process, “Percentage of chemicals used is very less. We use soda, lime and acid (specially used for making jaggery). 340 gram soda, 250 gram lime and 170 gram acid is mixed in 5barrels (1000litre) sugarcane juice. When we add acid to the juice the colour changes to chocolate colour and the taste becomes sweet,” he explains.

To remove the impurities from the juice okra stem powder is used. “We add 1 teaspoon okra (bhendi) stem powder. It is very important to remove the impurities from the juice. Without this powder the juice will not be clean,” he elucidates. These ingredients are important for processing sugarcane juice into jaggery. It is sold only in solid form. “We set the mix in bucket shaped mould of three sizes, 10 kg, 5 kg and 1 kg.”

Selling jaggery is not a challenge for Mr. Kalappa as he has long term relations with the traders. Entire jaggery produce is sold at Mahalingapur market in Bagalkot district, 8 km away from his farm. “Traders from Saundatti, Sangli etc come and buy jaggery from us. People buy from us as and when jaggery is ready hence there is no worry of selling. We need to expand the production capacity of our processing unit so that we can process all our produce within the farm,” he states. Selling price is fixed as per the market rates. “Last year jaggery was sold at Rs. 3600/quintal but this year it is reduced Rs. 2700/quintal. Price fluctuations are the biggest challenge in any agricultural business.”

Tomato and brinjal are sold in nearby cities. Turmeric is sold Sangli. “We boil turmeric, dry and polish before selling. Polishing of turmeric is done outside by paying Rs. 100/quintal. We get 90-100quintal/3acre,” he shares.

Sugarcane processing is capital and labour intensive business. “We need 20 labours to do the work. Selling sugarcane to sugar factory is very simple but processing is tough! However the money earned from processing is relatively better,” he affirms. Once Mr. Kalappa exhausts all the sugarcane stock for processing the jaggery he rents out the processing unit to other farmers at Rs. 1500/day only for the machines. Labour wage is additional and optional.

In time to come Mr. Kalappa shall continue the present operations and aims at expanding the production capacity. He concludes, “Farmer is always surrounded by problems but with persistence all the tribulations can be resolved. All we need is hard work and smart thinking.”

Contact Details:
Mr. Kalappa Gangappa Arekere
Near Shantinagar Plot, Hosur, Rabkavi Banhatti Taluk, Bagalkot District – 587314, Karnataka
Phone: 96116 60999