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 .

Standards for Sabudana (Sago, Tapioca Sago)

Food Safety and Authority of India (FSSAI)

Standards as per The Ministry of Health and Welfare, Food Safety and Authority of India -regulations for SAGO under Section 2.4.14:2 in Food Safety and Standards (Food product standards and Food Additives) regulation, 2011.
(The standards has been taken from prevention of food adulteration (PFA) rules 1955 Section. A 03.02 (Subs, by Noti. No. GSR 1211,dated 9.12.1958))

[SAGO shall mean small hard globules or pearls made from either the starch of the sago palm or the tubers of tapioca (manihot utilissima) and shall be free from any extraneous matter [including natural colours].[Ins, by Noti. No. GSR 74, dt 31-1-1965 in PFA rules 1955]

It shall conform to the following standards, namely-

(i) total ash (on dry basis) shall not be more than 0.4 percent;
(ii) ash insoluble in dilute hydrochloric acid (on dry basis)

shall not exceed 0.1 per cent.

The Sagoserve, Salem

An Industrial Co-operative Society, running under Managing administration of State Government of Tamilnadu, Marketing their member-manufacturers products through daily closed tender system in Salem. Currently, The Sagoserve is doing following tests of each and every lot of ‘Sago’ before displaying in the daily tender, to check any adulteration in the commodity.



PH 4.5 to 7.0
Total Ash

Max 0.4 % by mass

Acid Insoluble Ash

Max 0.1 % by mass

HCN (hydro cyanic acid)

Max 5 ppm

Maize Nil

Max 600 ppm


Max 400 ppm


Specification and Criteria for grade designation for Tapioca Sago by The Ministry of Agriculture (Department of Agriculture and Co-operation) (See the Gazette of India, Part II, Section 3, Sub-Section (I) dated 22-09-2007) SCHEDULE – II (see rules 3 and 4)

Grade designation and quality of Tapioca Sago

1. Tapioca Sago shall be made from the starch obtained from the tubers of tapioca (Manihot esculenta crantz syn. Utilissima);

2. Minimum requirements:-

(i) Tapioca sago shall be –

(a) hard, clean, wholesome, globules or pearls of uniform colour, shape and size;
(b) having characteristic taste and flavour;
(c) free from insect infestations, live insect , dead insects, insect fragments,mould/mites, larvae, etc.
(d) free from fermented and musty odour;
(e) free from dirt, extraneous matter (including added colouring matter);
(f) free from bleaching, whitening agent or optical whiteners, sweetening agents or any other adulterant;
(g) free from any fungal or bacteria contamination.

(ii) Tapioca Sago shall comply with the residual level of Poisonous Metals (rule 57), crop contaminants (rule 57-A), naturally occurring toxic substances (rule 57-B), Insecticides and Pesticides residues (rule 65) and other food safety requirements as laid down under the provisions of Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules,1955

3.Criteria for grade designation:-

Special Characteristics

Special GRADE

Standard GRADE

General GRADE

Moisture Percent by Mass (Maximum)




Total Ash Percent by Mass on Dry Basis (Maximum)




Acid Insoluble Ash Percent by Mass on Dry Basis (Maximum)




Starch Percent By Mass on Dry Basis (Minimum)




Protein Percent By Mass on Dry Basis (Maximum)




Crude Fibre Percent By Mass on Dry Basis (Maximum)




pH of Aqueous Extract (Between)

4.5 to 7

4.5 to 7

4.5 to 7

Colour of gelatinised alkaline paste in the porcelain cuvetta on the lovibond scale not deeper than

0.2R +1.0Y

0.3R +1.0Y

0.4R + 1.5Y

Sulphur dioxide content in PPM. (Maximum)




HCN (Hydro cyanic acid) Test




 The Bureau of India Standards (BIS)

Standards set by The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in their list as (IS:899-1971) Indian Standard for Tapioca Sago (Saboodana) (Reaffirmed 2009)

Sl No.



Method of


CI of IS:4706-



Moisture, percent by weight, Max




Total ash ( dry basis ),percent by weight. Max




Acid insoluble ash ( dry basis ), percent by weight,Max




Starch ( on dry basis ),percent by weight, Min




Protein(NX6’25)(on dry basis), percent by weight,Max



Sulphur dioxide, ppm, Max




Crude fibre ( on dry basis ), percent by weight. Max




pH of aqueous extract

4.5 to 7.0



Colour of gelatinised alkaline paste in the porcelain cuvette on the Lovibond Scale,not deeper than


Ref to Appendix

B * Methods of test for edible starches.


The Standards set (Previously in prevention of food adulteration (PFA) rules 1955) and Currently updated in Food product standards and Food Additives regulation, 2011 (under Ministry of Health and Welfare, Food Safety and Authority of India) are the minimum standards for a commodity to declare safe for human consumption. Thus, The commodity ‘Tapioca Sago (Sabudana)’ shall conform minimum to the following standards:

1. Small hard globules or pearls purely made from Tapioca Root (Cassava i.e. Manihot Esculenta crantz syn Utilissima)
2. Shall be free from any extraneous matter
3. Total ash (on dry basis) shall not be more than 0.4 per cent;
4. Total ash insoluble in dilute hydrochloric acid (on dry basis) shall not exceed 0.1 per cent; and
5. Total HCN (Hydro-cyanic acid) up-to 5 ppm (Internationally accepted codex standard is up-to-10 ppm for food items)

The Standards Set by BIS (under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution), by AGMARK (under Ministry of Agriculture -Department of Agriculture and Co-operation) or by The Sagoserve, Salem may be on a higher side of minimum food safety standards to certify the commodity better than average quality.