The member of the Self-help Group Van Suraksha evam Prabandh Samiti, Village - Atatiya, Range - Ogna, District - Udaipur (Rajasthan) after successful training at PHT centre, established the Gwarpatha Prasanskaran Kendra (Aloe vera processing unit) in Ogna village.
The tribals were trained to use the motorised small scale gel extraction machine, and in processes for value added products such as Aloe vera juice, squash and RTS beverage with/without blend of lemon, ginger and mint extracts, at the PHT centre, Udaipur.
Between December 2008 and February 2009, the unit produced about 500 litres of Aloe vera juice. Processed and bottled Aloe juice was launched for sale to general public and tourists as a health drink.
At present the processing unit is running successfully. Effective aloe juice recovery is about 30% as the plantation is under rainfed condition on Aravali hills. Total cost of production of Aloe vera juice is Rs 40 per litre with sale price as Rs 100 per litre, with a net profit of Rs 60 per litre.
The low sale price has been fixed after considering the prevailing market price of Rs 200 to 550 per litre juice. Local tribals and members of Van Suraksha evam Prabandh Samiti are earning profit by sale of Aloe vera juice.
Aloe vera is a plant of great potential and value in the field of therapeutic pharmaceuticals and cosmetic industries, and in Ayurvedic and Unani system of medicines, it is particularly useful for treatment of burns, bleeding wounds, as eye drops for sore eyes.
Aloe vera gel comprises 75 nutrients, 200 active compounds, 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins. There is about 125 ha of Aloe vera plantation in the adjoining area of the processing unit within the Ogna forest area of Udaipur district, which amounts to 12.5 lakh plants of Aloe vera.
These plantings were done by the Forest Department on degraded forest land for conservation under different schemes since 1996-97. However, due to lack of awareness and non-availability of simple technology for value addition at production catchment, tribal people were getting little or no monetary benefit from this large Aloe vera plantation.
From November 2009 to January 2010, the group handled approximately 4 tonnes of aloe leaf and produced 950 litres of aloe juice. The expenditure on labour, electricity, preservative (KMS), bottles, cans, etc. has been estimated as Rs 31,000. As the raw material i.e. Aloe leaf is a forest produce and managed by Van Surakshya Avam Praband Samiti, Atatiya hence no cost has been incurred for aloe leaf.
The building for housing the principal equipment and product was provided by the Forest Department, Government of Rajasthan. Therefore, with a revenue of Rs 95,000 obtained @ Rs 100/litre against the expenditure of Rs 31,000, a net profit of Rs 64,000 was realized for the duration.
This Aloe vera processing unit established with an investment of Rs 70,000/ is providing employment to 8 persons/ day (collection of leaf, processing, packaging and marketing). The unit can be effectively operated from September to February i.e, 6 months in a year, while the cost of unit could be recovered in almost three months. Quality raw material (aloe leaves) are not available from March to September, as the production area is rainfed hill forest.
This is the first such processing unit in underdeveloped tribal area of the Rajasthan for livelihood strengthening, economic empowerment and conservation of forest. The success of its Aloe vera processing unit has encouraged the entrepreneurship among the tribal farmers of this area.