The highly popular Bengali sweet, available only during winter months, is highly perishable
For the first time in its history, the Joynagar moa, a highly popular Bengali sweet that is available only during the winter months, is being exported.
The first trial shipment reached Bahrain on Wednesday and the exporter had received a repeat order that’s double the 45 kg already sent.
The moa is a popped-rice ball held together with fresh date-palm jaggery, and since its manufacture is mostly confined to the town of Joynagar (near Kolkata), it has earned the Geographical Indication tag of Joynagar Moa.
There has always been a demand for the Joynagar moa from Bengalis living abroad but since the sweet is highly perishable — it can hold its taste and texture for only 5-7 days under normal refrigeration — its commercial export was never seriously contemplated.
“The moa, which was sent by air on Tuesday, reached Bahrain in perfect condition. The customers have already collected it. They are so happy that they have already placed a repeat order, which is twice the amount of what we had sent as trial,” said Susmita Dutta of the Kolkata-based DM Enterprise, an exporter of fresh vegetables, fruits and processed food. The consignment was set along with 105 kg of date-palm jaggery.
The local unit of the APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority), which facilitated the export, is equally elated. “This should have happened long ago, and we are glad it has happened now. The moa is now among the very few agricultural GI-tagged items, such as basmati rice, Darjeeling tea and Alphonso mango, to be exported. We feel proud,” said Sandeep Saha, APEDA regional in charge.
“The next step would be reaching the moa to other countries. There’s already demand from Italy, Canada and Dubai. We are working on that. I am also pitching for its export to Indonesia. Without promotion, the popularity of the moa will remain confined to Bengal. One feeds proud at the thought of the sweet sailing the clouds and reaching overseas destinations,” Mr. Saha said.
The history of moa can be traced back to 1904 and it has always been synonymous with Joynagar even though many other adjoining settlements also specialise in it. The sweetmeat is made of aromatic khoi — popped rice — mixed with jaggery, sugar, cashew nuts and raisins.
Today moa-making is an organised business, run by the Joynagar Moa Nirmankari Society. The society earned the GI tag from the Commerce Ministry in March 2015 and so far, 26 of the 46 manufacturers registered with the society have received the certificate to make Joynagar moa — the remaining 20 applications are still under process.