Coconut farmers offered all support to tap ‘Neera’
By Express News Service | Published: 23rd March 2013 11:26 AM |
A discussion was conducted for the benefit of coconut producers in Thiruvananthapuram who have registered with the Coconut Development Board in connection with the production of ‘neera’ at Kottakkakam Auditorium here the other day.
State Planning Board member C P John, who participated in the debate, ensured all support for the Coconut Development Board and coconut farmers in tapping ‘neera.’ He said that ‘neera’ should be upgraded as processed food.
The policy of the government has already been announced in the budget, John said. He also urged the Coconut Development Board and Agriculture University to help the coconut producers to diversify for the manufacture of ‘neera.’
Francis George, former MP, pointed out that farmers should be given the facility for the production of ‘neera.’ From five coconut trees, around Rs 62,000 can be made in six months which can bring about a drastic change in the economy of Kerala along with a change in service and wage conditions. Karnataka has already started the production of ‘neera’ and Kerala could also achieve the target very easily.
The representatives of coconut farmers were of the view that value-added services only could help the farmers to overcome the crisis faced by them. The farmers should be allowed to tap ‘neera’ from the trees owned by them.
They also pointed out that a legislation should be brought by the government for an amendment in the abkari law to ensure that ‘neera’ does not come under it.
The toddy tappers who participated in the meeting also said that they did not have any objection to farmers taking their own decision in tapping ‘neera’, but the interests of the tappers should be protected.
Agriculture Department former director A R Heli was the moderator. Kerafed former director M Sukumara Pillai, former PSC member Thomas Mathunni, Coconut Development Board members Varkala B Ravikumar and Dharmarajan, All India Radio programme executive Muraleedharan Thazhakkara, Kerala State Chettuhozilali Federation general secretary N Rameshan, Kerala Toddy and Abkari Mazdoor Sangh general secretary M K Unnikrishnan, farmers’ representative in ‘neera’ Babu Joseph, Board publicity officer Mini Mathew, marketing officer Deepthi Nair, assistant marketing officer K S Sebastian and representatives of coconut producers participated.
The discussion was held to end the confusions and prepare a plan for future operations regarding ‘neera.’ It was also part of the allotment of Rs 15 crore in the budget for the establishment of 10 Neera units in the State and would help in preparing a draft policy by the Neera Committee.