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How to Grow Makhana/ Fox nut in your field?

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

Euryale ferox or the famous makhana or the prickly waterlily or the foxnut, or the gorgon nut belongs to the Nymphaeaceae family and is a perennial plant. It grows in stagnant water like ponds, swamps, and wetlands in the tropical climatic areas very much similar like to lotus. 

It produces edible seeds i.e. makhana that finds extensive uses in Indian dishes. A single plant can produce up to 80-100 makhana seeds. In India, makhana cultivation takes place mainly in West Bengal, Bihar, Manipur, Tripura, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and UP. But, Bihar alone is the largest producer of Makhana with 90 per cent of overall production across the world. 

It bears purple flower at the prickly stalk, with flattened, rounded green leaves that float on the water surface which look very similar like a lotus.  

How to grow Makhana – Steps to follow

  • Make ponds or swampy wastelands, an area in your field and take the seeds are sown from the seeds left from the previous harvest or the market or online websites. 

  •  The depth of the pond can be around 4-6 feet and must have stagnant water all times. This doesn’t require techniques like seedling transplant or seed sowing in traditional cultivation.

  • Even the makhana seedlings can initially be prepared like other nursery plants and transplanted in the water field between February to April month. 

  • Major work in makhana cultivation is the harvesting and it is not easy. It calls for the collection of seeds from the mud lying at the bottom of the pond and requires skilled labourers.

  • After that, the seeds are dried under full sun exposure to evaporating the moisture and it releases up to 31 per cent of the moisture. Then the makhana can be temporarily stored for maximum 20-24 days. 

  • Then comes grading in which sun-dried seeds are divided from 5 -7 grades, based upon their size. Cultivators use a set of sieves for this purpose and further, it is followed by heating and roasting.

  • In heating, the seeds are heated on an earthen or cast iron pan at 250° C – 3000° C temperature and require continuous stirring and heating for 4-6 minutes.

  • Then comes the storage as the heated seeds are stored at a dry place for 3-4 days. They naturally lose the inner edible part of makhana i.e. kernel from the outer hard shell.

  • Finally roasting and polishing is done and the seeds are again heated in the pan at 2900° C-3400° C temperature. They are put in a single layer and continually stirred within around 2 minutes, the seeds start popping. Then, after putting on the ground, using a wooden hammer processor beats the seeds to separate and extract the kernel from the hard coating. The kernel or Makhana are rubbed against bamboo basket for imparting whiteness & crispiness.

  • Then, further grading of makhana occurs according to the sizes and are packed into gunny bags for storing and transporting.

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