Villagers along LoC in Rajouri struggle to find market for local sweets

Villagers along LoC in Rajouri struggle to find market for local sweets
GK Photo

Rajouri, Feb 28: Villagers along the LoC in Rajouri are struggling to find the market for their local sweets. Those living in areas ahead of the barbed wire fence on Line of Control in Nowshera sector area of Rajouri district are preparing a tastier sweet dish called milk cake by processing cow milk on wood fire but are struggling to get proper value for their product.

The sweets prepared by locals is milk cake which is also called Kalakand in local language but those preparing sweets are finding it hard to continue this work due to limited scope of sale of their products.

The villages where it is being produced are Sehar, Makri, Namb and Kadali with all these villages falling under Nowshera sub division in Rajouri district are located ahead of barbed wire fence, called Anti Infiltration Obstacle System, on LoC and these are last villages of India as area ahead of it is under Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir while posts of Pakistan army are just a few hundreds away from these villages. More than one dozen Pak army's forward posts are also visible from these villages with majority of the houses in the villages bearing splinter damage marks received during times of cross LoC shelling by Pakistani army.

People in these villages face immense hardships for earning livelihood with a very few people here employed in government or private sector while majority of the villagers are dependent on agriculture works with bad road connectivity, poor healthcare setup and restrictions of Line of Control further aggravating their hardships. Villagers in the area are preparing a good quality sweet from last several years but face difficulty in proper sale of their product due to limited scope of export market.

Vicky Kumar, a local man from Sehar running his traditional and small sweet making unit in a kacha shed in village said that the milk cake prepared in the area is pure in quality and is best among all other sweets available in open market. " I collect cow milk from houses in the village and then put it in a big utensil which is then put over wood-fire for hours," said Vicky Kumar.

The cow milk is processed for hours over the wood-fire with a meager quantity of sugar added in it with no preservative, flavor or any other thing being added to the material, he said.

Vicky Kumar further said that after processing cow milk on wood-fire for over four hours around 1 to one and a half kilograms of sweets is prepared which is than ready to be sold.

" Milk cake produced in the village is of best quality but unfortunately we don't have any scope of sale in outer market. Our sale is mostly in army area on LoC,”Kamal Parkash of Sehar village said.

Kamal Parkash said that Government should take steps to provide adequate export market for milk cake producers so that they can get good income.

" Our village is on LoC and there are no opportunities to earn livelihood on own, but proper export of locally prepared milk cake sweets can boost the economy of area and a large number of people in the area will get opportunities to earn good money," Kamal said adding that it will also help all other households in the area as every family in these villages on LoC have domesticated milk animals but there is no scope to sell milk and many a times people have to throw milk into fields.

Wishing anonymity some army personnel serving in the area said that milk cake produced by villagers in the area is pure and very tasty. " This is one the best sweet one can find in entire country," they said.

Senior Scientist and Head of Krishi Vigyaan Kendra Rajouri, Arvind Kumar Isher said that people from villages of Sehar, Makri, Namb and Kadali ahead of LoC in Nowshera are producing one of the finest quality sweets.

" Milk cake produced in the village is pure as it is prepared without any preservative, flavor, color or fragrant material and only cow milk is used with some sugar," Arvind Isher said.

He said that processing of cow milk on wood-fire is a traditional practice which further makes “this sweet one of the best and it has a natural fragrance which is another positive aspect of it. ”  Regarding problem faced by sweet producers in export of their material, Senior Scientist Arvind Isher said that his office is working on a project to boost the talent of preparation of this sweet in the area and also to provide scope of sale of the produce in areas outside villages.

" Need of the hour is that the produce of the villagers is made available in markets of big cities like Jammu," the officer further said.

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