Taste of Neera!
Vol 11 | Issue 30
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The traditional non-alcoholic beverage extracted from the sap of native palmyrah trees has been a popular drink in villages in many parts of India. Known as pathaneer in Tamil Nadu and neera in Marathi, this natural drink is rich in nutrients such as calcium and vitamin C. Palmgur or Palm jaggery is also made from this extract.
But today people have forgotten this healthy natural drink and prefer to have carbonated soft drinks such as Coke or Pepsi. The palmyrah tree has lost is value.
Now, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission has rolled out a unique project to produce 'Neera and Palmgur (jaggery)' which it expects has a huge potential to create employment in the country.
The project was launched at Dahanu in Palghar district of Maharashtra, a state with more than 50 lakh palm trees.
The initiative is expected to provide direct employment to 400 local traditional tappers. The project aims at promoting 'Neera' as a substitute to soft drinks while also creating self-employment for tribals and traditional tappers.
While launching the project, tool kits for extraction of Neera and making palmgur were distributed to 200 local artisans who were given seven days training.
The project has been rolled out at the initiative of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Minister Nitin Gadkari who is also exploring the feasibility of engaging some big players of the state to start using Neera as a soft drink to make it commercially viable.
According to the Khadi and Village Industries Commission a wide range of products like candies, milk chocolates, palm cola, ice-cream and traditional sweets can be produced from Neera if properly marketed.
At present Palmgur and Neera worth Rs 500 crore is traded in the country. The turnover is likely to increase manifold with commercial production of Neera.
"On the lines of coconut water, we are working to promote Neera as a substitute to the soft drinks available in the market. Neera is organic and rich in nutrients and thus a complete health drink. By increasing the production and marketing of Neera, we are trying to establish it as a key vertical of India's village industry," KVIC Chairman Vinai Saxena said.
Saxena said the production of Neera has high potential in terms of sale as well as creation of self-employment. "Palm industry can be a major employment generator in India. It is aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call of self-reliance and vocal for local," Saxena said.
At the same time, Neera has high export potential as it is also consumed in countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.
India has an abundance of palm fields in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that can make India a leading producer of Neera globally. - TWL Bureau with IANS inputs