Value-appreciation of Sabudana in India

Now a days, Marketing is global and there is no barrier, but traditionally, Merchants of Salem (Tamilnadu) has helped a lot to develop the current credit of Indian Sabudana all over the world.

The author, who is related since more than 40 years to the trade and industry of Sabudana in Salem, himself devoted his life to the trade and industry. In 1981-82, he has supported the formation of a co-operative society (The Sagoserve) for betterment of trade and industry and helped in formation of Bye-laws of the society and marketing of society-member’s products to all over India. In 1984-85, he initiated to get AGMARK certification of Sabudana (first in the country). Similarly first, he has launched best quality Indian Sabudana in consumer packs (Sachamoti AGMARK Sabudana) directly from the manufacturing centre and created a big goodwill for the brand as well for Indian Sabudana itself. In 1993, he was introduced Indian Sabudana to UAE directly from the manufacturing centre, perhaps, first in bulk quantity. In 1997, he created a ‘Sabu Visual and Oral Sago Testing Form (SAVOSA)’ in the interest of consumer awareness, which is even, relevant today. In 1999, to develop and exchange the knowledge across the Globe, Specifically about Sago and relatively Starch,Tapioca and Other tapioca products, he launched a Website ‘, again first in India, in Sago-Starch Field. He has organised many ‘sago-recipe-contests’ all over the country to develop taste, knowledge & fame of ‘Indian Sabudana’ in consumers. Since, 1984 he is publishing ‘sabudana-recipes-booklet’ and distributing free to his consumers to create interest in the product.

In India, Major Consuming States of Sabudana (Tapioca Sago) are Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Andhra-Pradesh. Consumption in Other States are low. Even in Tamilnadu (Main Producing Centre), the consumption is only about 2 to 3% of total Sabudana Production. Uses of Sabudana in our country is completely as a food, especially on the days of fasting (vrat-upawas) i.e. Navratri, Srawan, Ekadashi, Purnima or in Ramzan Period, as is rich in complex carbohydrate and digesting slowly, thus no feelings of empty stomach. There are many recipes are in use, in which popular recipes are Khichadi, Vada, Bonda, Kheer, Halwa etc. Some families are preparing home-food items like Khichia, papad, chakali etc. by boiling Sabudana , especially in Gujarat.

To develop Sabudana in India, tremendous work has been done by following agencies:

1. Central Food Technological Research Institute(CFTRI), Mysore (A constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial research, New Delhi) is doing regular researches since 1950 for development of various uses and easiness in manufacturing-process. It is working under Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. For more information, you can visit their website at .

2. The Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) a constituent Institute under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is the only research organization in the World dedicated solely to the research on tropical tuber crops. It has done tremendous work since 1963 for development and protection of Cassava (Tubers of Tapioca) in India. The Institute Scientists have won national and international recognition in the past. You can visit their website for more information at .

3. “Salem Starch and Sago Manufacturers’ Service Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd.” Salem (Popularly known as “Sagoserve”) formed in 1981 by the sago/starch manufacturers under the Tamil Nadu Co-operative Society Act 1961 under the leadership of founder chairman Late Shri A. Angamuthu. He has done very hard and a noble-memorable work for the trade and industry by joining all the sectors at one platform. It was commenced its business on 27.02.1982. This society is functioning under the administrative control of the Director of Industries and Commerce, Govt. of Tamilnadu. Due to successive efforts of the society, sago/starch units have now become the backbone of Salem District’s Rural Economy.

Purchases of Sago/Starch from “Sagoserve” are exempted from CST for inter-state sales and Concessional TNGST rate of 1% for purchase of sago and starch through the society (5% ST payable for purchase outside the society). This is an incentive offered by the state Government to promote co-operative movement. Due to concessional rate of salestax, currently, about 30 to 40% sago-starch production of the belt is arriving at The Sagoserve for marketing.

Currently, in 2014, Shri B. Arulmurugan is the Chairman of The Board of Directors and Smt. V. Santha, IAS is managing Director of The Sagoserve. They are trying hard to remove hurdles specifically in the growth of The Sagoserve and commonly for whole sago/starch trade and industry. Previously, mentionable developments and growth has been achieved in the period of following managing directors: Shri N. Natarajan B.Com (Founder Managing Director), Shri Hansraj Varma, IAS, Shri Vishwanath Shengaonkar, IAS, Shri Sandeep Saxena, IAS, Shri S.K.Prabhakar, IAS, Shri K. Ashokvardhan Shetty, IAS, Shri Harmander Singh, IAS, and Shri K.K.Kaushal, IAS.

Since 1982, Highest sales of Sago/starch through the sagoserve was achieved unitwise in 2001-2002 (24.41 lakh bags / Rs.20470.37 lakh) and valuewise in 2013-14 till feb 14 only (for 9.54 lakh bags / Rs. 43818.06 lakh). These are the remarkable achievements in the history of Sago in India. For More information about The Sagoserve, you can visit their website at .

Sabudana Manufacturing Process

Manufacturing Process of Sabudana (Tapioca Sago) in India:

  • Water Wash of Field Fresh Roots (To Remove Mud & Dust)

  • Peeling Machine / Manual Peeling (To Remove Skin of Roots)

  • Skin Peeled Root —> Inspection Belt (To Check Manually)

  • Towards Root Grater/Rasper with Fresh Water (For Crushing)

  • Extraction of Raw Starch Milk

  • Refining of Raw Starch

  • Milk & Fibers Separated through 3 or 4 Mesh Filter Separators

Separated Milk through Jet Refiner to Remove Excess Water, and

Separated Fibers through Pulp Press Machine to Remove Water.

  • Moisturised (about 45%) Lumps of Refined Milk to Sizer for Globule Shape of Required Size.

  • Sized Globules moving either to–>

(1) Hot Plates for Roasted Variety, or

(2) Steam Boiler for Boiled Variety

  • Both Variety drying under Sunlight/Mechanical Dryer to bring Moisture below 12% Minimum.

  • Pass through Separator Sieves for Uniform Size & to Remove Brokens & Powder.

  • ‘Tapioca Sago (Sabudana)’ is Ready for Market.

Sabudana Related HSCodes

Sabudana Related HSCodes

Harmonised System Codes:

Internationally, The Harmonised System classification Code for
‘Tapioca Root (Cassava)’ is 0714 1000 and
Products of Cassavais 1106 2020.

Section II Vegetable Products ->

Chapter: 07 Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers –>
Heading: 0714 of Manioc, Arrowroot, Salep, Jerusalem Artichokes, Sweet Potatoes and Similar Roots and Tubers with High Starch or Inulin Content, Fresh, Chilled, Frozen or Dried, Whether or Not Sliced or In The Form of Pellets; Sago pith –>
Clasification: 0714 1000 of Manioc (Cassava)

Chapter 11 Products of the Milling industry; Malt; Starches; Inulin; Wheat gluten>
Heading: 1106 Flour, Meal and Powder of the dried Leguminous Vegetables of Heading 0713, Of Sago or of Roots or Tubers of Heading 0714 or of the Products of’
Classification: 110620Of Sago or of roots or tubers of heading 0714′ Sub-Classification: 1106 2020Of manioc (cassava)

Why Indian Sabudana is the Best ?

Why Indian Sabudana is the Best ?

The Whole manufacturing of Sabudana in India is directly from the “extract of Cassava (Tubers)” only , not from dried flour or starch of cassava, as in many other countries. Thus, the quality of Sabudana ‘Made in India’ is much better.

In general, a final drying after gelatinisation in both the varieties of Sabudana is necessary in order to bring down the moisture content to the desired level of below between 11 to 12 percent. Normally, from 15.5 tons of moist extract, 10 tons of the dried product are obtained.

The brown skin, which contains chlorophyll and coagulated proteinous substances, adheres strongly to the ligneous tissues. While it is easy to remove this skin from the fresh roots, it is very difficult to remove it from the dried roots and, therefore, the starch of dried roots is always dark.

The nitrogenous substances are found in a colloidal state enveloping the starch granules in the pulp slurry of the fresh roots. It is easier to separate these nitrogenous particles in the pulp slurry of fresh roots than in dried roots.



The Tapioca Sago and Tapioca starch industry of Tamilnadu is the result of scarcity created by the impossibility of imports of foreign sago and starch from Singapore, Malaysia, Holland, Japan and U.S.A., during the Second World War. In the year 1943, Mr. Manickam Chettiar, a dry fish merchant of Salem had the occasions to go to Kerala very often in connection with the trade. He found tapioca flour to be a good substitute for the American corn flour. Shri Popatlal G. Shah, an evacuees from Penang (Malaysia) came in touch with Shri. Manickam and taught him the technical know-how to manufacture sago out of tapioca flour. Thus tapioca was used in 1943 to manufacture both starch and sago. But the methods adopted were crude and primitive.

In order to meet the daily increasing demand for sago and starch, Mr.Manickam with the help of a genius mechanic M. Venkatachalam Gounder improved the methods and machinery of production. The productive capacity of the industry increased from 2 bags of 100 kilo to 25 bags per day. In 1944 there was a severe famine in the country as a whole, and tapioca being edible, the collector of Salem prohibited the export of tapioca from Salem District.

The Salem sago and starch manufactures though very few in number formed an association and represented their case before the Civil Supply Commissioner and got the prohibitory order of the District Collector and also that of Madras Government for the export of sago and starch to other states cancelled. In 1945 production of sago and tapioca starch increased appreciably.

The sago and tapioca starch industry was born during the Second World War. But the aftermath of the war posed a severe threat to its existence. The Second World War was over and imports of starch and sago began to increase from foreign countries under general license No. XI.

Sago and starch manufacturers made the successful representation to Sri. C. Rajagopalachari, the civil Supplies and Industries Minister in the Interim Government and it resulted in the banning of imports of sago, which was extended up to 1949.

The Tariff Board also gave protection to sago industry from time to time up to 1957 in one way or other.

In 1957, misguided by some government officers and jealous persons, the Calcutta Corporation with the help of the Enforcement Branch seized about 8000 bags of sago from the traders in Calcutta under the bogey that Salem sago was not fit for human consumption. The action of Calcutta Corporation was terrific on the sago industry, and its price came down to Rs.20 per bag from Rs.65 within one month. Many manufacturers ceased the production and the agriculturists decided to switch over to the cultivation of other crops. This was the worst crisis faced by the industry since 1943.

The Sago manufacturers association faced the crisis boldly. They filed a case before the Supreme Court, against Calcutta Corporation. The sago manufacturer successfully established, by the analytical report that there was practically no difference between the good imported sago and the Indian product. They won the case. From that time Salem sago was also brought under Processed Food Act. Sago industry was thus saved.

In 1949, there were 45 units with about 7000 tonnes production of sago and starch. In 1957, there were 125 units producing about 23000 tonnes of sago and starch.

In 1993, there were about 852 units in India out of which 725 units are located in Tamilnadu. In Salem District alone there are 649 units constituting 89.5 percent. In 2008-09 there were about 359 sago industries located in Tamilnadu. In Salem District alone 120 units are located in Attur and Gangavalli area.

Tapioca waste like Thippi (remaining after starch and sago) is extensively used as cattle feed and the powder extracted from this residue known as Thippi flour or paste flour is used for various pasting purposes.

Sago and tapioca starch industry in Salem District and Tamilnadu has had a phenomenal growth in the last 47 years. Though it is a recent industry of Tamilnadu, its role particularly in Salem economy is very great indeed. It has already affected and has vastly increased the trade potential in addition to giving scope for employment opportunities for labour.

According to FAO classification, Root and tuber crops form staple diet for three percent of the global population. Cassava is mostly used for human consumption in the African continent and South America. Industrial utilization of cassava is prominent in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and India in the form of starch, sago, dried chips, flour and the like.