The cassia tora plant is also known as chakoda in some parts of India. It is widely known for its various applications such as medicinal applications, food applications and various industrial uses of the cassia gum powder. The plant mainly grows in the tropical areas of India mainly in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The main parts of the plant utilized for commercial applications are the leaves and the seeds which are collected for local sales or for individual consumption.For consumption, the young leaves are prepared as cooked vegetables, while the seeds have numerous other benefits.
Industrial Applications for Cassia Gum Powder
The cassia gum powder has been found to be an excellent natural gelling agent and is made from the endosperm of cassia tora seeds. The cassia powder is used in various industries as a thickener, texturizer, foam stabilizer, moisture retention agent and as an emulsifier. The cassia gum powder also has important medicinal values as it has historically been used in traditional medicine.Non Timber Forest Products
The cassia gum has been recognized as one of the most important non timber forest products in the Madhya Pradesh state of India. It has been seen that these NTFPs have a great contribution of more than 60% of the income to the local residents. In the district of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, the cassia gum is a natural growing herb species found in places such as degraded forests, plantation sites, agricultural lands and even on road sides.Government Involvement
The quantity of the collected/harvested cassia powder is a key determinant of the market sustainability of the business. To enhance the total volume of cassia harvested, the local government has helped the local residents to form a farmer producer company (FPC) to help in aggregation of the collected produce and seeds for sale to the market.
Villagers have also been mobilized to form enterprise clusters and a common understanding made with the various market players on the terms and conditions that will guide the business relationship. These terms include the quality specifications, price mechanisms, negotiations procedure with the market players and even on the handling of disputes.Market linkages
Through the local government efforts, market linkages have been created between collectors and many more sellers and processors. Maximum collection of the cassia tora seeds is done during the dry season with the help and coordination of the farmer producer company. With proper aggregation and delivery of quality seeds, high quality cassia gum powder has been achieved and this translated to better prices to the collectors and gatherers.Research and Funding
In effort to maximize on all the benefits of the cassia gum powder, the Indian government has intensified research into more processing, food and medicinal applications of the cassia tora plant. There is a lot of ongoing research on the pharmaceutical applications such as antifungal activity, antioxidant, psoriasis treatment, anti ulcer and anti microbial activity. The results of these efforts will be higher demand for the cassia powder, better farm gate prices and improved livelihoods. The whole value chain becomes highly profitable once these efforts bear fruit.