Not many people are aware that Byadagi, a small town in Haveri district has one of the oldest markets selling some of the best agricultural produce of India. Though Byadagi is better-known for its world-famous vibrant red chillies, its garlic, jaggery, rice, turmeric and areca nut are par excellence!
According to the locals, the Saturday market of Byadagi was established hundreds of years ago. The extensive market yard selling varieties of local produce draws visitors from all over India. Though the majority of people head straight to the second largest red chilli market of the country, a sizeable portion pick up the pungent garlic, golden yellow turmeric, molasses and indigenous rice.
What makes the agricultural produce grown in this belt so special is the well-drained loamy soil (black and red lateritic soils rich in potash with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5), warm and humid climatic conditions during the growing period and dry weather during the maturation period and adequate annual rainfall (500 to 800 mm).
The taste and pungency of the garlic is largely attributed to the organic farming techniques, minimal use of pesticide and mineral-rich soil. Though the yield of garlic is comparatively lesser as compared to the other native varieties grown across India, its quality is excellent.
This garlic is used as a food ingredient and as a medicine. The prevailing weather conditions in this area help the garlic retain its aroma, taste, quality and pungency for months if stored at room temperature. Byadagi garlic is often used along with the pungent Byadagi chillies to prepare chutney, dehydrated powders, mixed spices, rasam powder, paste and others.
Byadagi has a rich agribusiness in place for centuries. Its produce can certainly be sold in nearby domestic markets and exported as well. It would be great if more initiatives are undertaken to support the small and marginal farmers like value-added products, processing plants and better marketing of their produce.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)