Kerala launches toddy board to ensure quality and boost industry welfare

It aims to organise, develop and promote the sector while safeguarding the welfare of workers.
The Toddy board's responsibilities include ensuring the availability of natural toddy for consumers, initiating projects for the production of value-added products
The Toddy board's responsibilities include ensuring the availability of natural toddy for consumers, initiating projects for the production of value-added productsPhoto | Express

KOTTAYAM: Toddy enthusiasts have reason to celebrate. The state government’s efforts to guarantee high-quality toddy for consumers and improve the well-being of employees in the sector have marked an important milestone with the establishment of the Kerala Toddy Industry Development Board.

Following the publication of the gazette notification in February, the board has launched its operations.

The board aims to organise, develop, and promote the sector while safeguarding the welfare of workers. Its responsibilities include ensuring the availability of natural toddy for consumers, initiating projects for the production of value-added products, and establishing a structured framework by maintaining statistical data on the industry. Currently, there is no accurate data on the amount of toddy being tapped in the state. Despite the excise department collecting Rs 2 per litre following the introduction of the Kerala Toddy Industry Development Board Bill in 2021, the government only possesses data on toddy being transported from Palakkad to other districts.

For toddy tapped in other regions, the government still relies on figures provided by toddy shop owners to the Kerala Toddy Workers Welfare Fund Board.

“The board has begun its operations and is actively fulfilling its primary duties. In addition to regular discussions, we have already held meetings with representatives of trade unions and shop licensees. The board has extensive powers to advance the toddy industry, but we must overcome initial challenges,” said U P Joseph, chairman of the toddy board.

The Toddy Industries Welfare Fund Board has provided a loan of Rs 2 crore for the initial activities of the toddy board, along with temporary office space at its office premises in Ulloor, Thiruvananthapuram. Of the Rs 2 cess being collected by the excise department on toddy transported from Palakkad to other districts, other than Thiruvananthapuram, Rs 1 is for the board. This has resulted in the excise department accumulating Rs 19 crore over three years. The transfer is pending the approval of the finance department.

Additionally, the board has recommended that the government create 16 posts to support its functioning. The government has so far appointed a chief executive officer.

Joseph emphasised that the board’s first priority is to promote the production of value-added products to prevent wastage. Despite Kerala facing a shortage, sometimes toddy cannot be sold entirely due to factors such as adverse weather conditions. The current protocol is to dispose of the excess toddy daily. To address this issue, the board will explore opportunities to create value-added products such as natural vinegar from toddy, Joseph added.

Furthermore, the government plans to increase toddy production by planting high-yielding toddy-producing trees. “The main challenge lies in the insufficient number of coconut and palm trees available for tapping the required amount of toddy. To tackle this issue, the board intends to establish toddy-tapping plantations in each district initially, followed by each taluk. Efforts are also underway to identify tappable coconut trees across the state to enhance productivity and to meet the requirements locally,” said Joseph.

Additionally, the board aims to set up toddy parlours with modern amenities in tourism centres to provide families with the opportunity to enjoy quality food along with toddy tasting.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com