Although there was a time when a large amount of sugarcane would be cultivated in Brahmanbaria, farmers are now losing interest in favour of other crops, which they consider as more profitable
Over a hundred families of farmers in Brahmanbaria continue to preserve the traditional technique of producing molasses, locally known as “Lali Gur,” a trade once very dear to their ancestors.
This particularly delicious type of liquid molasses is made from juice of sugarcane, cultivation of which has been abundant in the district for generations.
Over the years, Lali has grown in popularity for its unique taste and unadulterated quality throughout the district, and in other places as well. In winter, traditional cakes are made from Lali, which itself is considered a fine delicacy.
According to the DoA, although there was a time when a large amount of sugarcane would be cultivated in Brahmanbaria, farmers are now losing interest in favour of other crops, which they consider as more profitable.
However, this current season, Lali Gur worth around Tk3 crore will be produced in the district, according to official data.
Local sources say, more than 100 families in Bijoynagar, Kasba, and Bancharampur upazilas of Brahmanbaria produce Lali between November and February.
Of the three, Bijoynagar upazila produces the most with an average of 1,000kgs per day which has a market value of almost Tk80,000.
Since the molasses contains no additives or ingredients to enhance its taste or change its colour, this traditional Brahmanbaria delicacy attracts buyers from all over the country.
During a visit to Bijoynagar, this correspondent saw farmers busy pressing sugarcane with buffaloes in their yards. After the juice is collected, it is boiled for two hours at night, which later turns into the delicious Lali.
People engaged in producing and marketing these molasses say Lali Gur is sold to wholesalers at Tk75-80 per kg, which then retails at Tk100-110 per kg.
Rukku Mia, a Lali producer from Bijoynagar, said he bought sugarcane at Tk15,000 per Kani [1 Kani=40 Decimal] this season. Sugarcane from 1 Kani produces 18 maunds of Lali. He hopes for a profit of Tk20,000-25,000 by selling Lali produced from this sugarcane.
Another Lali producer, Arab Mia, said, “This year I bought 10 Kani of sugarcane land for Tk2 lakh. I can sell the Lali Gur produced from all my sugarcane at Tk4 lakh. So, minus all expenses, I will earn a profit of Tk60,000.
“Previously, one had to go to the market to sell Lali. Now the wholesalers come straight to our homes to buy the molasses.”
Idris Molla, a local senior citizen from Bijoynagar, said: “Lali was once produced on a large scale by local sugarcane farmers. But now, only some families cultivate sugarcane to produce Lali, just to hold on to the traditional trade of their ancestors.”
Rabiul Haque Majumder, deputy director of the district agricultural extension department, said: “Lali is a delicacy in the local villages and remote areas. Upazila agriculture officials are ensuring that the molasses produced in their areas are free from adulteration.”