Kochi | State Excise Minister K Babu today said that licences will soon be granted to 173 coconut producers federations in Kerala to tap ‘neera’, a non-alcoholic health drink made from coconut palm. There will be no delay in the grant of license, he said speaking at a function here to mark the commercial launch of ‘neera’ by the Thirukochi coconut producer company Ltd in Ernakulam district.
Presently, only 61 federations have license to tap ‘neera’, a sap extracted from the inflorescence of various species of toddy palms. Coconut Development Board Chairman T K Jose said eight units have started tapping neera since the last eight months.
The target is to utilise 40 per cent of the tapped neera used for making bottled softdrink and the remaining would be used for various value added products like jam, squash, cakes and chocolates. There are also plans to use neera instead of sugar in the famous Kozhikode halwa and bring out more value added products using neera, he said. In Ernakulam district, two federations– Koothatukulam and Kotahmangalam have been granted license to tap 1,500 coconuts per day.
Farmers can earn upto Rs 40,000 per month by tapping neera, Joseph Babu, company chairman said. The congress-led UDF government had made an amendment in the 112-year-old Abkari act to treat neera as a non-fermented and non-alcoholic drink.