Some jaggery producers in Rajshahi are allegedly mixing potatoes and wheat with molasses to produce jaggery. According to sources, earlier, wheat-husk and flour were mixed with molasses to increase the weight of jaggery. Now, the price of wheat-husk and flour being increased, the molasses producers are now mixing boiled and smashed potatoes which is cheaper than wheat-husk and flour.
It is learnt, molasses producers are purchasing potato at Tk 16 t0 20 per kilogram and mixing those with molasses and selling sugarcane molasses at Tk 60 to 65 per kilogram and jaggery at Tk 90 to 100 per killogram.
After adding potato, taste of molasses is decreased but molasses producers earn more profit in terms of the extra weight. As a result, buyers and consumers of the jaggery are being cheated.
According to sources, Charghat, Bagha, Puthia and Paba upazilas of Rajshahi and Lalpur and Bagatipara upazilas of Natore are famous for sugarcane molasses and jaggery production. A huge quantity of sugarcane is produced in those upazilas and there are also a large number date trees. Farmers of these areas produce a huge quantity of jaggery which is sold all over the country.
Sources said, the producers of jaggery earlier used chemicals like Hydrous, Calcium Carbonate, Chemical Colours and even brick-dust for making the colour of molasses bright. But now they are also using potato to increase the weight of molasses which sometimes even doubling the normal weight.
One molasses producer promising anonymity said, when they stewed sugarcane and date juice, they add potato with the juice to make the molasses. They put the mixture at a dice and make molasses. Though the sweetness of the molasses decreases with the practice, it increases the volume (weight) of each bar almost double, he said.
Hasan Ali(55) of Baneswar Bazar informed, he purchased jaggery from the local producers for several years and send those to various places of the country. He said, now almost all local jaggery producers are used to the malpractice of mixing potato, wheat and husk to earn extra-profit. By making jaggery from pure sugarcane or palm juice, a producer will not be able to sell that at the competitive market. As a result, those people need jaggery for their family consumption, made only the pure jaggery.
Dr. Pradip Kumar, a retired Senior Medical Officer informed, the use of potato in molasses is not harmful or the human body but people are being cheated through such practice. He further said, the potato mixed jaggery is not fit for storing for a long time because potato is perished sooner than the jaggery. Moreover, such jaggery adulterated with potato is not fit for storing by traders or any one for a long time.