|Food, Nutrition and Agriculture - 11- Edible Fats and Oils (FAO - FPND - FAO, 1994)|
|Ghani: A traditional method of oil processing in India|
When ghani crushing was widespread, fresh oil was in greater demand than it is today. Flavour, which was traditionally an important attribute of all oils, and particularly of rape and mustard, coconut, groundnut and safflower oils, was best in oils produced from mild ghani crushing. Both storage quality and nutritive value were perceived as being high, although this is not borne out by modern studies. Today homemakers, especially in urban areas, demand bland and refined packaged oils.
Since vegetable oils are naturally sterile, problems of hygiene in ghani oil are unlikely. Turnover of oil in the home is so rapid, and usage of oil in India so low, that oxidative and lipolytic deterioration resulting from storage is also insignificant. Ghani cake is known to be exceptionally hard and dry and is not prone to mould infestation unless inadvertently wetted.
However, the ghani has disadvantages which are mainly economic in nature. Traditional ghanis have a maximum capacity of about 50 kg per day, and modern powered units only about twice that much. As a result, running costs are disproportionately high. If animals are used, they need to be trained, and they are expensive to feed. Artisan training is also essential. Ghani oilcake as prised out of the unit after crushing is extremely hard and is not accepted by the trade for further solvent extraction, as are expeller oilcakes.
In ancient times, ghani crushers in India were recorded as being a separate caste, and this distinction still persists (Bose, 1975). Since the start of the twentieth century, as the demand for ghani oil has dropped sharply, younger people have shifted to more remunerative occupations, turning away from ghani crushing as they have from many other artisanal activities in a rapidly changing social, technological and economic environment.
Use of ghani crushing in India has probably stabilized at the current level of subsidized operations. In the future, power-driven devices are certain to displace traditional ghanis worked by animal traction. There may still be room for powered ghanis in India and perhaps even in other developing countries with limited local supplies of raw materials for oilseed extraction, and there may be a place for batteries of power ghanis to multiply oil output from a common shaft in factory operations.