The State Minor Forest Produce Federation has planned to market the food-grade Mahua grown in Chhattisgarh worldwide. It is noteworthy that in the year 2023-24, out of the total 694.94 quintals of food-grade Mahua flowers collected in the state, the Manendragarh Forest Board alone collected 503.65 quintals. Accordingly, the Manendragarh Forest Board ranked first in the collection of food-grade Mahua flowers in the state. their fragrance has started permeating the world. In accordance with the intention of Chief Minister Mr. Bhupesh Baghel and under the guidance of the Minister of Transport, Housing, Environment, Forest, and Law, Mr. Mohammad Akbar, continuous efforts are being made in Chhattisgarh to enable forest dwellers and collectors to reap maximum benefits from the collection and processing of minor forest produce. As a part of this endeavour, the collection of food-grade Mahua is proving to be quite beneficial.
According to the information obtained from the Forest Officer of Manendragarh, food-grade Mahua flowers (raw Mahua) were collected through nets under the District Union of Manendragarh’s Primary Forest Produce Co-operative Committee in Bhaunta, Belbehra, Ghutra, Kachaud, Kelhari, Belgaon, Junanwa, and Madisarai. The collectors have gathered 503.65 quintals of raw Mahua flowers at a rate of Rs. 10 per Kg. The Mahua flowers were dried with the help of a solar dryer after collection. The collectors were paid Rs. 5 lakh 3 thousand 650 as wages. A total of 99.60 quintals of food-grade Mahua flowers (A-grade: 78.30 quintals and B-grade: 21.30 quintals) were obtained after solar drying and processing. Women of the self-help group under the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Janakpur and Kathautiya conducted the processing of the raw Mahua flowers. The women were granted employment for 60 days from April 2023 to May 2023. The women were paid a remuneration of Rs. 200 per day. After processing the Mahua flowers, they have been securely stored at Aqua Food and Storage in Bilaspur Bypass, Ring Road No. 3, Vidhan Sabha Road, Giraud, Raipur. About 1 kg of dried Mahua flowers were obtained by drying 5 kg of food-grade Mahua flowers. The purchase rate of dried Mahua was Rs. 50 per Kg, while the same in the market was Rs. 30-35 per Kg. As a result, the beneficiaries earned additional profit from the collection of food-grade Mahua flowers. Moreover, collecting Mahua flowers through nets tied under Mahua trees saved the collectors the effort of handpicking the flowers individually in the hot summer season. There was no need to take Mahua flowers to the market for sale. In the financial year 2023–24, 123 Mahua beneficiaries collected food-grade Mahua from 213 Mahua trees through nets.
Many villagers are showing interest in the collection of food-grade Mahua flowers, and in the future, more beneficiaries are expected to engage in Mahua flower collection through nets. Additionally, self-help groups are employed in tying nets on trees, and collecting, transporting, and drying the flowers through solar dryers.