Palm sugar promoted at unrecognised hub

By Thai Newsroom Reporters

TODDY PALM SUGAR concentrate and syrup are being currently promoted at an otherwise unknown source of manufacturing in Chainat as an alternative to cane sugar and other sweetening agents for domestic consumption, albeit with a relatively high selling price.

The official promotion of the home-based manufacturing of palm sugar concentrate and syrup was recently launched at Huay Krod subdistrict of Sankhaburi district in Chainat by the Department of Agricultural Extension’s Zone 1, based in the central province.

Generations of Huay Krod villagers and those in nearby areas have grown toddy palm trees as a cash crop despite the fact palm sugar can never be competitive against cane sugar in terms of selling prices at any domestic markets nationwide. The average retail price of palm sugar is currently 40-50 baht a kilogramme, roughly twice as much compared to that of cane sugar.

Nevertheless, toddy palm farmers honestly believe the consumer can always tell the essential differences between these two types of natural sugar, largely used as a sweetener by Thai and foreign cuisines, according to Wirachai Khemwong, head of the Department of Agricultural Extension’s Zone 1.

One refers to the different tastes between palm sugar and cane sugar and the other refers to the natural aroma of the former and none of the latter. The natural taste and fragrance of the toddy palm are like no others, the official remarked.

That being said, the manufacturing volume and sales of palm sugar are practically a tiny fraction of those of cane sugar throughout the country. That simply points out the reality of a consumer product’s popularity which does not necessarily depend on its qualities as far as the selling prices are concerned, he said.

Palm sugar is manufactured in two forms, in solid concentrate contained in a bucket and syrup in a bottle.

In the meantime, a mediocre scheme has been quietly revived to launch an agro-tourism campaign to feature local villagers’ agricultural occupations and lifestyle with focus on the home-based manufacturing of palm sugar, according to farmer Wicharn Juijang.

After the pandemic situation has largely improved, travellers and tourists, Thai and foreign, will be warmly welcomed to Huay Krod villages surrounded by toddy palm plantations and see for themselves the time-consuming manufacturing of palm sugar concentrate and syrup.

Wicharn has not only offered himself as a picker of toddy palm fruits but a tour guide for visitors to view the entire manufacturing process beginning with his climbing up a 10-metre-high tree to pick the fruits with bare hands.

The planned agro-tourism campaign focusing on such cottage industry was primarily designed to publicise the sustainable agricultural occupation passed on from one generation to the next in the otherwise unknown countryside neighbourhood less than 200 kilometres north of Bangkok.


Top: Palm sugar, also known as jaggery. Photo:
Home Page: Palm sugar. Photo: Khmer Times

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