Jashpur: Mahua blossoms into herbal sanitizer

On the occasion of World Tribal Day, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel interacted with women self-help groups producing hand sanitizers from mahua in Jashpur district.

Mahua is as much the essence of tribal life in Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh as an important fulcrum of the local tribal economy. Every aspect of their lives- from birth to death- is touched by mahua and they rightly consider themselves as guardians of mahua.

Trading in mahua flowers in summers is one of the major sources of livelihood for tribals. With the onslaught of Covid-19 in early 2020, tribals in several parts of Central and Eastern India were left in the lurch, as their traditional buyers remained unavailable due to lockdown. However, the sudden demand for hand sanitisers in the subsequent months opened new business opportunities for several tribal groups. One such success story has come from Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh, where a young entrepreneur along with women owned Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are making herbal hand sanitizers using mahua spirit.

“The idea to develop hand sanitizer from Mahua spirit came to me when I could not obtain enough hand sanitizer liquid for the employees at my petrol pump. The ideas was to use a purified and distilled form of Mahua spirit as sanitizer in this period of crisis,” said Samarth Jain, who runs a company in Jashpur which makes agricultural and herbal products.

“After obtaining permission from the district administration and forest department, we roped in a local Self-Help Group and developed sanitizer samples in three days,” he said. The District Collector of Jashpur had confirmed that the sanitizer made from Mahua spirit was completely herbal and has no side effects and the alcohol content was as per the World Health Organization guidelines.

Recently, on World Tribal Day, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel interacted with women self-help groups of various districts of the state through video conferencing from his Raipur residence. The Chief Minister appreciated the innovation by discussing with the women of the Singi Self-Help Group, which is making sanitizer from Mahua in Jashpur district.

The group’s secretary Karuna Bhagat told the Chief Minister that under the Van Dhan Vikas Yojna, in collaboration with the forest department, the women of 10 tribal self-help groups have been working as sanitizers. They have made 3150 liter sanitizer since May. The group has earned Rs 5 lakh 52 thousand by selling 1152 liters of sanitizer. The group has made a profit of 1 lakh 35 thousand.

It’s quite remarkable to see how a timely innovation in a far-flung district of the country could make mahua a new weapon in the battle against the corona virus.

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