Molasses industry in Nepal in full swing as season kicks in

Kathmandu [Nepal], Jan15 (ANI): As the season kicks in, the aroma of boiling stacks of sugar lumps fill the ancient city of Tokha inside Kathmandu Valley here.

Anish Maharjan and his family members are busy preparing molasses since mid November last year, with the start of winter and the arrival of ‘Maghe Sakranti’, first day of Magh, 10th month as per the lunar calendar. “On a daily basis, we make molasses of about 10 sacks (lump of sugars) from morning till late evening. Someday it might go down to 8 sacks whereas someday it goes over 11 sacks too. On an average we make molasses of around 500 kilograms, there are three others who look after marketing. Sometimes, we get calls from markets as well,” said Maharjan.

He added: “Some shopkeepers visit and take away their orders. Moreover, tourists come here to purchase molasses. In a season, we make a gross of around 2 million Nepali rupees by making and selling the molasses.”

However, the making of molasses is seasonal and the industry only works full-fledged for just two months in a year. Rest of the time the people would indulge in farming and other supporting business.

“It’s already been 25-30 years since I started to make molasses. My parents use to make it before me and then I learned the technique from them and continued it. Now my sons make the molasses,” Maharjan’s father Nuhuchhe Narayan Shrestha said.

Maharjan is perusing his under graduation in a national college in Kathmandu along with helping out the family to continue the business.

“People need not have the same mentality and way of thinking. Some people take their culture along and perpetuate it. However, some just fly off to other countries completing their studies. I am also vying to fly abroad to continue with my studies. I don’t want to give up my culture either, so I am taking this profession as a part-time job,” Maharjan said.

Shyam Shrestha, a trader in Kathmandu, said: “During the winter season, we take on Chaku (molasses) to heat our body, keep ourselves warm, and defend cold weather conditions. It is produced for only two months. We make Yomari (traditional Newari cuisine) using Chaku and it gets finished by the mid of January.”

Tokha, ancient settlement inside Kathmandu Valley, is believed to have been in existence from Malla Period, long before the unification of Nepal by Prithivi Narayan Shah and currently have around 15 molasses making home-based industries.

The word “Tokha” have appendage from a Newari Word “Tyokha” meaning sweet and molasses were the main produce of this place which has continued over the centuries. As many as 11 hundred grams of sugar lumps, ‘Bheli’, are needed to prepare one kilogram of molasses and the producers only can make a profit of Rs 15-20 through the sales. There is no official statistic or data about the consumption and production of molasses nor the number of people engaged in this business.

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