Goa hurrack brewers face new challenge this season

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Panaji: The cashew farmers in the coastal state of Goa are unenthused over brewing the seasonal Urrak, also known as Hurrack, due to the falling prices for the cashew nuts in the market.

The farmers claimed that the season business of harvesting cashew plantations across the hills of the state has become uneconomical for them, considering the poor price fetched for the nuts.

Gauresh Velip, who along with his three friends takes on rent the cashew plantation at Quitla village in South Goa’s Quepem taluka, pointed out that the cashew nuts are fetching as low as Rs 111 per kilogram price, which is less compared to the last year’s rate of Rs 120 per kilogram.

“The only way we can keep this activity of harvesting the cashews alive is by providing good price to the nuts,” he said.

The cashew season in this former Portuguese-colony is popular for Urrak or Hurrack, an alcoholic brew which is much in demand during the summer.

Velip says that it is not economical to harvest the cashew from the money that one earns from Hurrack. A one litre bottle of hurrack costs Rs 250 in the market right now, but the rate will be reduced as the season comes to the end, he said.

As per the records from Indian Council for Agricultural Research, the cashew plantation in Goa is spread over 55,302 hectare area with an annual production estimated at 27,070 tonnes.

The ICAR has said that it occupies largest area amongst the horticulture crops.

Rupesh Velip, a leader of Scheduled Tribe community, said that the government should give priority to the cashew harvesters as it is their sole source of income during this season.

“For generations, these tribals have been harvesting cashews and also growing paddy in their field. They are not dependent on government jobs. They feed the population. But they don’t get respect and support,” he said.

Velip said that the state government should procure the cashew nuts at a higher rate so that the farmers are compensated for their handwork.

Anand Gaonkar narrated how the tribal population spends their three months of the year in the forest away from their families, sometimes without going home for days together.

Brewing hurrack is not a part time job, he said, adding “it requires full time dedication and massive hard-work.”

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