PALAKKAD: In what could be termed as a revolution, a scientist from Padannakkad Agricultural University has developed a new technology that delays fermentation of ‘Neera’ that helps commercialise it on a mass scale.
At normal temperature ‘Neera’ ferments within three days which limits it large-scale commercialisation. But with the new technology, fermenting can be prevented for six months at normal temperature, some good news for farmers who earn a livelihood from ‘Neera’. At present, a bottle of ‘Neera’ costs Rs 30 and the demand is very high. There are plans to export it to foreign markets but its quick fermentation is a hurdle and keeping it chilled is costly. M P Giridhar, a scientist and professor, introduced the technology that has been approved and funded by Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
“It is the result of relentless research for three years. A demonstration was made at ICAR and training given on using the technology. ICAR declared it a successful experiment and also certified it,” said Giridhar. He also said he had demonstrated it to former Excise Minister Vakkom Purushothaman and the government had plans to make use of it at three centres across the state. “However, nothing has been done so far,” said Giridhar.
Now the technology developed by a team of scientists headed by Jayaprakash Naik of Kerala Agricultural University is being used for ‘Neera’ production. However, Naik admitted that the existing technology cannot keep ‘Neera’ unfermented for over seven days. “A new technology to delay fermentation will give a boost to ‘Neera’. The scientists have been doing research on it. A technology that keeps ‘Neera’ from fermenting at least for three months will be good,” said Naik. On the new technology developed by Giridhar he claimed ignorance and said, “I cannot take a unanimous decision and it is up to the university to take a call on it. Let Giridhar come forward and demonstrate the technology.”
The vascular sap collected from immature unopened coconut inflorescence in its fresh from is known as ‘Neera’. It is a sugar containing delicious health drink and a rich source of minerals and vitamins. It is non-alcoholic and nutritious.