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

Down to Earth - - NEW BUSINESS - M SU­CHI­TRA |

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

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