Narasapur: The age old practice of collecting seeds of Mahua, locally known as Ippa tree, has commenced in Narsapur forest range in Medak district.
Narasapur forest range has Mahua trees in abundance. Dozens of Lambadas and other people living on the fringes of forest have started collecting the seeds of Mahua (Madhuca Indica and Mentha Longifolia). The seeds are known for yielding healthy edible oil, which is used in Indian kitchen traditionally from ancient days.
Earlier the tribals and farmers living on the fringes of forest used to brew ‘ippa sara’ (liquor) from the Mahua flowers, but with time they have lost interest in consuming the liquor made from Mahua flowers due various reasons.
But many of them still continue the tradition of collecting seeds. Speaking to Telangana Today, B Hiraya Nayak, a resident of Chandi village of Shivampet mandal, said that he plans to collect not less than 10 kg of seeds every day, which he would sell for Rs 20 a kg in local market.
However, another seed collector, Dandeboina Lakshman, a resident of Timmapur village, said that most of them use the oil for their domestic use, while only a few of them sell it to traders. “Traders in Shivampet and Narsapur purchase these seeds from local people and sell the oil, which is in great demand, in open market,” said Lakshman’s sister Yadamma.
The onset of monsoon is the right time to collect the seeds which fall around the trees. The seed collectors start their work very early in the morning and conclude their work before noon. Mature fruit falls on ground during the months of June and July, every year.
The 25-50 mm long ripe fleshy berry contains one to four seeds. After removing the upper layer of seeds and drying, the seeds are sent for milling. Laxman said that five kg of seeds would yield not less than two kg of edible oil, which was considered healthy to use in the kitchen.