A disruptive technology is all set to change the face of toddy and neera tapping from coconut tree and solve the problem of finding skilled tappers.

The automatic sap tapping device developed by Kochi-based agri-start-up Nava Innovation will make use of AI robotics and IoT to collect toddy or fresh sap from the container placed at the bottom of the coconut tree, eliminating the need for the tapper to climb the tree daily.

Charles Vijay Varghese, Founder Nava Innovation, told businessline that the device is equipped with sensors that can detect the optimal time for tapping and can also monitor the health of the tree, which will help farmers optimise their yield and reduce wastage. The device helps tappers to tap 300 or more trees per day.

The company has received a seed investment from angel investors Christo George, CMD of Hykon India Ltd, and Manoj V Raman, an NRI businessman. It hopes to deliver the tapping device in the market within the next 6-9 months, Charles Vijay Varghese said, adding that the new technology aims to enhance productivity and enable coconut farmers to produce sap and value-added products on a large scale.

Nava Innovation has also secured a utility patent in 28 countries, representing nearly 90 per cent of the worldwide market, for their unique automated coconut sap or neera tapping technology.

According to him, coconut sap tapping is a lucrative practice for farmers, generating profits that are 8-10 times higher than traditional coconut sales in coconut-growing regions worldwide. The demand for coconut sap derivatives such as Coco sugar, Aminos, Sap vinegar, etc is at an all-time high.

However, despite its profitability, the tapping industry is facing a decline due to a severe shortage of skilled tappers. The increasing number of fatal falls from coconut trees has deterred workers from pursuing this labour-intensive and high-risk occupation, opting instead for more accessible and better-paying jobs. It is a technology from India to the world that could help millions of farmers world-wide, he said.