Farmers of Chittoor district unit of the Kisan Service Organisation (KSO) have expressed concern over the reported ban imposed by the government on the production and sale of ‘black jaggery’ on the ground that it is being clandestinely used for the brewing of illicit liquor and brew.

KSO leaders T. Audikesavulu Reddy and others, at a press meet here on Saturday, criticised the government for framing cases against the sugarcane farmers under the garb of punishing them for violating the ban, without knowing the fact that the colour of the jaggery produced depended on the nature of the soil and the agro-climatic conditions.

Describing the ban as ‘ irrational’, the KSO leaders criticised that the government for its ignorance about the fact that black jaggery is also being used as a major component in the production of cattle fodder, chicken feed, in the preparation of ayurveda medicines and in the temple of Lord Venkateswara for the preparation of ‘prasadam’.

They also criticised the government for thinking that only black jaggery was responsible for the production of the illicit liquor, and asked whether on the same analogy, would they ban production of ‘thumma’ trees the chips of which were used for making illicit brew, or prohibit the production and sale of ‘diazepam’— a sedative pill or certain cough syrups having high percentage of alcohol.

Mr. Reddy and other KSO leaders urged the Chief Minister to take a practical and rational look at the illicit liquor problem and lift with immediate effect the ban on the production and sale of black jaggery.

Incidentally, sugarcane is grown in the district on three lakh acres and about 50 lakh tonnes of cane is being produced every year, a sizeable portion of which went into the production of black jaggery.