The efforts of the Coconut Development Board (CDB) for the standardisation of coconut neera and developing process for making value added products from it is gaining momentum.
The Technology Development Centre of the CDB at South Vazhakkulam is hopeful of coming out with the technology to prevent the fermentation of neera by December this year. This will help the CDB to market neera as a bottled soft drink, thereby increasing its popularity.
“Neera, is easily susceptible to fermentation at ordinary temperature and we have now developed a technology to prevent its fermentation. It will be finalised by December,” CDB processing engineer Sree Kumar Poduval told Express. Neera is obtained by slicing the inflorescence and collecting the sap from the unopened spadix of the coconut tree before it gets fermented. Though the sap looks similar to tender coconut water, neera is said to contain more natural sugar and minerals.
“With the help of cost-effective techniques, it can be converted into jaggery and crystal sugar. Also by preventing fermentation, neera can reach wider markets as a nutritious soft drink,” he added.
Apart from the development of technology, CDB is also pioneering the procedures for training neera tappers. Unlike toddy tapping, neera should be tapped more carefully .
Meanwhile, the CDB also awaits the amendment to the Abkari rules for giving an exemption to neera from the Excise laws.
As per the Abkari rules, any fermented or non-fermented sap taken from coconut and other palms are categorised as toddy. However, neera being non-fermented, an amendment is required.
The Taxes Secretary was asked to give the recommendations for the amendment. However, the amendment is yet to be made. The CDB authorities hope that the amendment and its notification will be completed by the time the technology is finalised, since the CDB will be able to issue the licences to the Coconut Producers Company in each district only after the amendment.
“We are awaiting the amendment and hope that our long-pending demand for launching neera production will be met soon,” said Babu Joseph, who represented the farmers at the high-powered committee constituted for neera production.