Climate change affecting Rajasthan's ker-sangri production and prices soar
Ker and Sangri, also known as the "desert berry", is an integral part of Rajasthani cuisine and a staple fruit in the state of Rajasthan. It grows on the Khejri tree and the Ker plant, which are considered a lifesaver in the desert. The Khejri tree can still grow where there is no water and is adored by locals for its ability to provide nutritious fruit in the arid regions of the state.
Unusual weather events
However, this year's unusual rainfall and relatively low temperatures have affected the growth of the Khejri tree and desert berry. The western districts of Rajasthan recorded 185% above normal rainfall in March, April and May when it should have been 13.8mm but was 39.4mm. The temperature has been 3 degrees Celsius below normal, affecting the growth of the Khejri tree and the desert berry.
As a result of the high humidity in the air and unusual rainfall, pests and fungi have infected the Khejri tree, affecting not only the bark but also the leaves and shoots. This has led to a 60-70% drop in Sangri growth due to unusual rainfall and climate change.
The Khejri fruit, Sangri, when combined with Ker, makes an integral dish of Rajasthani cuisine, which is also a staple of desert people. However, the price of the fruit has risen sharply this year and it has disappeared from menus in Rajasthan restaurants.
Ker-Sangri prices have doubled from ₹1,500 to ₹3,000 per kg this year, affecting farmers who would earn additional income by collecting the fruit from the Khejri tree and selling it in the market.
Farmers who would earn additional income by collecting the fruit from the Khejri tree and selling it in the market are also disappointed. Ker-Sangri's prices have doubled from ₹1,500 to ₹3,000 per kg this year, affecting his income. The situation is worrying for the people of the desert and their cuisine, which is based on this unique fruit.
Threat to Rajasthani Cuisine Staple
Khejdi is a vital lifeline to the desert region of Rajasthan, providing shade and the key ingredient for a nutritious and popular local dish called Sangri.
This year's unseasonal rains have led to an increase in pests and fungi, damaging the growth of the Khejdi tree and reducing Sangri production by 60-70 per cent, according to MR Baloch, director of the Arid Research Zone in Jodhpur.
Insects thrive due to excess moisture in the air, which creates favourable conditions for fungus and slime, which are natural enemies of the Khejdi. The unusual rains have caused a drop in temperature, which has caused an increase in pests and fungi. Normally, pests and fungi would die off in the hot weather. However, this year, they have festered and attacked the Khejdi tree.
Sangri served at Khejdi is an integral part of the Rajasthani diet, and ker-sangri ki sabzi, a dish made from ker, is an important part of Rajasthani cuisine. Farmers who earn extra income by collecting the Khejdi fruit and selling it at the market are also disappointed as the trees are not bearing fruit this year.
Anand Bhati, a restaurant owner, said that Ker-Sangri is not widely produced and the dish was being served for Rs. 160. Due to the high cost, they have stopped serving him. The Khejdi tree is highly valued and revered in Rajasthan due to its hardiness and the nutrient-packed Sangri it produces.
In the desert region where trees and plants are scarce, Khejdi provides essential shade, and Sangri has been a part of the local cuisine for centuries. The loss of Khejdi and Sangri due to climate change and unusual weather patterns is a significant loss to Rajasthan's heritage and traditional food culture.
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