Full-fledged neera production set to take off soon in State

Full-fledged neera production set to take off soon in State

Annual business volume pegged at Rs 45,990 cr: Coconut board

It’s just a matter time before full-fledged production of ‘neera’ (non-alcoholic nutritious drink) is started in the State.

As the long-pending demand for neera production is finally being fulfilled, the Coconut Development Board has pegged the annual volume of business at Rs 45,990 crore.

As per its estimation, the processing, packaging costs and revenue to government by way of taxes will be around Rs 11,498 crore.

The Horticulture department, which has readied the draft policy, is hoping for the government to roll out the neera policy by mid-November.

The Excise department, which is the regulatory department, is also in the process of finalising the amendments to be incorporated in the Karnataka Excise Act 1965.

According to officials, the word ‘neera’ has been added in the Excise Act, to facilitate production.

Kerala model
The department has framed rules for neera production based on the Kerala model, and it is yet to go before the State cabinet.

Hemachandra, Deputy Director, CDB, said that production could begin soon after the rules are framed and policy approval. “The Board has given its approval to train 1,000 master trainers, who will be trained to tap coconut water,” he said.

As the traditional toddy tappers are no more in trade these days, CDB has proposed that ‘neera master technicians’ are trained to tap coconut water. He said that there are an estimated 7.66 crore coconut trees in the State.

Tumakuru and Mandya
Of these, neera will be tapped only in 10 per cent (76 lakh) of the trees. To start with, tapping will be initiated in Tumakuru and Mandya districts.

While 62,500 trees will be tapped in Tumakuru, 37,000 trees will be tapped in Mandya district.

He said that while the coconut grower will be paid Rs 50 per litre of coconut water; the neera technician will be paid Rs 25 per litre.

Even if three litres are tapped every day from 20 trees, the grower will earn a revenue of Rs 90,000 per month, while the technician will earn Rs 45,000.

Amul-like network
He said that already 113 neera production federations have registered themselves with CDB, and 115 federations were in the process of getting registered.

A three-tier system has been worked out and the entire process will be based on the ‘Amul dairy’ model.

Under each federation,
coconut producing societies/companies will be registered, to which the farmers’ groups will be attached.

There are six technologies available to process coconut water. Coconut water undergoes fermentation process within four hours of its tapping.

The CDB has proposed to add food preservatives which will help preserve neera for nearly four months, while the Central Food Technological Research Institute, (CFTRI), Mysuru, proposes to preserve neera in cold storage.

A biotechnology college in Ernakulam, Kerala, has proposed to preserve neera using organic preservatives. Hemachandra said that a consensus will be arrived at with farmers’ groups, before deciding on the technology to be adopted.

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