The sharp drop in sale of the famous ‘Manapparai murukku’ is linked to acute water shortage in the town.
The Manapparai rice murukku, in fact, gets the distinctive flavour only due to the salty well water. With wells drying up, water was sourced from borewells, but the flavour is gone. And now, even the borewells have dried and Cauvery water brought to the town is being used, says Sheik Dawood, who is into the murukku business.
Earlier, only little salt used to be added to the other ingredients: rice flour, cumin seeds, sesame, and asafoetida. The salt content in the saline well water used to be sufficient. Unavailability of the flavour-inducing salt water has reflected in sales dropping by at least 50%, says Mr. Dawood.
“We have been seeking a geographical indication (GI) tag for the murukku for years. The Indian Standards Institution (ISI) mark has also not been given. Since the ISI mark hasn’t been granted yet, loans for scaling up the business are not being sanctioned and it remains a cottage industry,” said Muthu Kumar, a vendor.
Meanwhile, some makers are hesitant to scale up production. “The production of the murukku has always been a family business. If we go in for mass production, we may lose out on the flavour and quality which come from knowledge of right proportions of salt content, kneading technique, refined palm oil and special murukku rice flour milled in Madurai,” says Mr. Dawood.
Makers who used to produce at least 100 kg a day have scaled down the capacity to only 30 kg, says Mr. Dawood, adding “We make a profit of only about ₹ 10,000 – 12,000 a month. Many have shifted to selling other fried savouries.”
(source : The Hindu)