A study on the practice of adulteration of Kitul (Caryota urens) sap products in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences
Kitul (Caryota urens) industry is a traditional agro-based cottage industry in Sri Lanka. By seasoning an immature inflorescence and slicing it, sap can be extracted to make a variety of products such as treacle, jaggery, toddy and vinegar. Genuine Kitul products are used in indigenous medical treatments and also exhibit anti-diabetic properties. It was observed that the quality of sap products was deteriorated by adding cane sugar, hence beneficial effects could not be obtained. The objective
... ned. The objective of the study was to identify the reasons for sugar adulteration and recommend measures to minimise this malpractice. A questionnaire survey was conducted covering all the 12 Kitul growing districts in Sri Lanka. A two-stage stratified sampling technique was adopted for data collection. A total of 304 tappers from 101 villages were included in the sample. Data were analysed by fitting linear logistic models using SAS statistical package. The main reason for adulteration of Kitul produce with sugar was low quality sap with high water content. Those tappers who would season flowers and obtain sap during rainy weather had adulterated their Kitul products with sugar (p=0.02). Similarly, when the success of seasoning a flower was less than 69%, the producers tended to add sugar to their Kitul products (p<0.01). Furthermore, those tappers who practiced Kitul tapping as the main income source and who obtained sap continuously for more than six months had added sugar to treacle and jaggery products (p=0.08). Prevention of rain water being mixed with sap during sap collection is one way of avoiding watery sap. Adoptation of seasoning methods which utilise natural herbal substances is a solution for low success of seasoning of inflorescences. Since low quality sap is secreted during the last phase, when collecting sap for an extended period like six months, the tappers have to be discouraged from tapping the same inflorescence and must be encouraged to find new inflorescences to start tapping.