Maharashtra to encourage ‘mahua’ wineries in Vidarbha

March 14th, 2008 - 12:16 am ICT by admin  

Mumbai, March 13 (IANS) The Maharashtra government will encourage creation of ‘mahua’ wineries in forest-rich eastern Vidarbha where mahua trees grow in abundance, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced in the state assembly Thursday. “Wineries will be a part of the comprehensive scheme aimed at boosting the economy of the region which will include production of fuel oil and soaps from the mahua seeds among other things,” Deshmukh said in reply to a calling attention motion moved by Nana Patole (Congress) and others.

Tribals in Gadchiroli, Gondia and Bhandara districts of eastern Vidarbha as also the contiguous forest-rich Chhattisgarh have traditionally used flowers of the forest tree, termed ‘madhuka indica’ (also ‘madhuka latifolia’), for brewing liquor as also jaggery and ‘halua’, a sweet dish.

Experts have also recommended the use of mahua seeds for production of bio-diesel along with jatropha.

“The government will announce the comprehensive scheme during the current budget session itself,” the chief minister said, adding that he hoped it would go a long way in combating the Maoist menace in the backward tribal region by eradicating its poverty and backwardness.

Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute later told reporters that the forests in the region have 30 million mahua trees that yield annually yield 150,000 tones of flowers and nearly 40,000 tones of seeds which would now be used for making oils and soaps besides wine.

“The government will give the winery license to whoever asks for it along with a slew of incentives,” Pachpute said.

The government also promised to come out with another comprehensive scheme for fishermen in the state.

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