Bitter sweet: The story of Agra’s petha waste

In 2021, when merely 7 per cent of the units were functional, 17.8 tonnes of petha waste per day was generated

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 10 November 2022

Agra is a city steeped in history and the Taj Mahal is its brightest jewel.

But there is another thing that this city is well known for and that is the sweet and succulent petha. There is demand for the sweet across the country to which the several hundred small and big petha manufacturers in the city cater.

But this huge demand also means a lot of waste from petha manufacturing. Recently, the Agra municipality has created a simple yet unique solution to treat petha waste efficiently.

Petha making produces a lot of waste. About 60 per cent of this waste is raw, including the peels and pulp of the ash gourd that is generated during manufacturing.

In 2021, when merely 7 per cent of the units were functional, they generated 17.8 tonnes of petha waste per day. This was 3-4 per cent of the city's total 796.3 TPD of municipal solid waste on average. Some 38 per cent of the units openly dump the waste on the streets or nearby water bodies.

But unlike other wastes, Petha waste is organic and can be more efficiently managed. Local petha manufacturers are already using the raw waste as cattle feed in the nearby cattle farms.

Agra has 300 cattle sheds and 24 cattle farms — the latter alone can use up to 25.68 TPD of petha waste, much higher than what the industry generates.

Making this supply chain sustainable could be a long-term solution.

With the pandemic, the petha industry is going through a change. And as the industry is slowly reviving, this could be the right time for the Agra Municipal Corporation to tackle the environmental impacts of petha making.

Making the petha industry part of a bulk waste generator, getting proper arrangements for waste management and providing clean energy for a quick transition from coal to liquefied petroleum gas could strengthen the iconic petha industry in the long run.

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