Popularly known as the ‘Land of Saints’, Mangalwedha taluka in Solapur district is renowned for its culture, heritage and agricultural produce. Traditional crops like sorghum, bajra, groundnuts, corn and sugarcane cultivated in this historical place has been famous for centuries. The local variety of jowar known as Maldandi jowar has been cultivated here for at least 500 years if not more for grain and fodder use in each and every village in Mangalwedha taluka.
This jwari as it is locally known grows exceedingly well in the black soil found in this area that is rich in organic matter and moisture. As jwari is grown using indigenous practices, it has certain inherent qualities like low temperature tolerance, resistance against pests and insects (fungicides and insecticides are not used) and flowering and maturity remains unaffected with fluctuating temperatures and sowing time.
Jowar is a rabi crop and the age-old method of sowing called tiffani is done at the end of the monsoon (Mid-September – Mid-October) as it facilitates growth and development. Intercropping practices are quite common in this area where jowar is either grown along with tur dal or kardai (safflower).
Mangalwedha jowar is harvested when the grain has become hard with less than 25 percent moisture (120 – 130 days after sowing). The entire plant is uprooted and dried for 3 – 4 days. The ear heads are separated from the plants and threshed either by beating the ear heads with sticks or by trampling.
The threshed grain is cleaned and dried in the sun for at least a week to reduce the moisture content for storage. It is best to store jowar in good quality jute bags to avoid spoilage and protect it from possible insect attacks.
This jwari gives the best grain yield, quality, fodder yield and fodder quality as compared to other varieties grown in India. Records show that this variety of jowar is cultivated in about 44,700 hectares of land with a yield potential of 15 – 18 quintals/hectare for grain and 50 – 90 quintals/hectare for fodder.
Mangalwedha jowar is sweet to taste as it contains high percentage of glucose as against other varieties of jowar. It has a bold lustrous grain with thin pericarp and high nutritional value. Farmers say that the milk of cows and buffaloes has higher fat content and thereby fetch higher prices when they are given the Maldandi fodder.
As this jowar has high gluten content, the bhakri made from this flour is delicious to taste and extremely soft. Mangalwedha jowar was granted the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2016.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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