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Pootharekulu makes Atreyapuram rich & famous

Pootharekulu makes Atreyapuram rich & famous
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It is pootharekulu which brought global recognition for Atreyapuram village in East Godavari district. Festivities in Godavari districts are incomplete without the traditional sweet.

Kakinada: It is pootharekulu which brought global recognition for Atreyapuram village in East Godavari district. Festivities in Godavari districts are incomplete without the traditional sweet. Pootharekulu is a must on the menu of big fat weddings in Telugu-speaking states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Pootharekulu are also sent to the relatives and friends living abroad by Telugu people as a gift.

Making of the `paper sweet’ is a cottage industry in Atreyapuram. According to villagers, Pootharekulu originated at Atreyapuram about three centuries ago. Jaggery was used for making the delicacy initially. With the passage of time, sugar replaced jaggery as a major ingredient of Pootharekulu. Now, a variety of Pootharekulu are available in the market. Hot and spicy Pootharekulu are a new creation. The price of each `paper sweet’ ranges from Rs 7 to Rs 15 depending on the quality and ingredients. Ghee and sugar are liberally used in making the delicacy.

About 400 families are dependent on the cottage industry in Atreyapuram for their livelihood. Both men and women take part in making of the delicacy. Women play a key role in making rice wafers using a wood-fired earthen pot. Rolling of pootharekulu is a delicate art. The rice wafers are filled with ghee, sugar and other ingredients. On an average, a woman makes 600 pieces a day.

Normally, women make pootharekulu in their free time. They are paid a piece rate of 60 paise by sweet shop owners. If women work full time, they can make more pootharekulu. A man can make up to 1,000 pieces a day. Generally, men are engaged in marketing of the sweet. The annual turnover of the cottage industry is put at Rs 3 crore.

Though there is good demand for pootharekulu of Atreyapuram, its potential is not fully tapped. According to people engaged in making the popular delicacy, they are getting no support from the state government or banks in the form of subsidies or loans. The support from DWCRA groups is not adequate to promote the `paper sweet' in a big way.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s plans to get a brand image worldwide for Andhra Pradesh through pootharekulu are yet to materialise. The shelf life of pootharekulu needs to be increased to further enhance its popularity.

The Andhra Pradesh Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation (APITCO) conducted research on enhancing the shelf life of the `paper sweet' earlier and submitted a report to the Khadi and Village Industries Board. But the matter was not pursued by the government of the erstwhile united AP. Packaging is another area which needs greater attention to market the sweet in a big way.

If the government focuses on these two aspects, the popular sweet will certainly be a foreign exchange earner. Speaking to The Hans India, Satyavani said: ``Many women in our village are engaged in making pootharekulu. The popular delicacy will help women achieve empowerment if the state government supplies sugar and other key ingredients to makers at a subsidy.’’ Satyanarayana, a seller, said: “Pootharekulu are much in demand.

The export potential of the popular sweet can be tapped fully if its shelf life is increased and attractively packaged.’’ Shankar, a consumer, said: ``Atreyapuram pootharekulu are similar to homemade sweets in all aspects. People with sweet tooth need not hesitate to relish on pootharekulu as they are good for health.’’ DPRO M Francis, who hails from Atreyapuram, exuded confidence that pootharekulu would certainly get Geographical Indication tag one day.

By Adapa Apparao

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