High on nectar
Demand for the fresh sap of young coconut flowers, is rising with advances in food preservation technologies. It's time Kerala stopped classifying it as country liquor
Idoing the unimaginable for Vidya P T, a resident of T'S LIKE Kuruvattoor village in Kozhikode district of Kerala. She tightly clasps onto the trunk of the coconut tree and starts climbing it.Two knives and a piece of bone remain tightly fixed to her waistbelt; a small, sterilised pot hangs from it. On reaching the crown,Vidya tends to a spadix—a young inflorescence of coconut palm. She removes the bright sheath around it, gently taps the flowers for a while using the bone,cuts the tip of the spadix,and ties the pot next to it.It would take 12 to 15 days before the flowers start oozing sweet clear sap into the pot.Then, for the next few months, Vidya would climb up and down the tree every morning and evening to collect the fresh sap or neera.
Vidya is one of the four women in a batch of 20 youths who are being trained as neera technicians by the federation of coconut producers’societies at Payimbra village in Kozhikode.Over a hundred federations in Kerala are providing similar training.They want a new batch of neera technicians ready to cater to the growing demand for the delicious health drink, both across the country and outside.
“Traditionally we used to extract a lot of neera. It was even given to pregnant women and children as health drink,” recalls P Aravindan,president of Payimbra federation.But the practice was
Vidya P T of Kuruvattoor village in Kerala receives training in neera extraction