Agri Business

Remove anomalies, amend TN Prohibition Act: Coconut Development Board

L N Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on January 22, 2018

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The Coconut Development Board (CDB) is advocating the need for removing the anomalies and issuing an amendment in Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act 1937 to exclude Neera from the definition of Toddy.

Asserting that Neera is a non-alcoholic beverage extracted from the inflorescence of coconut palm, the CDB, while stating that it is “illogical and irrational” to include Neera under Section 19 of the Act, explained that Neera or Padani as stated in Section 11-B means juice drawn from a coconut, Palmyra, date or any other kind of palm tree into receptacles treated so as to prevent any fermentation. It therefore should not be categorised as Toddy under Section 19, as it contains “no alcohol”.

The Madras Neera or Padani Rules 1939 states that licenses may be issued (under these Rules) for drawing of Neera in pots or other receptacles “freshly coated internally with lime” for manufacture of jaggery from such toddy for sale or use of such toddy as a beverage without fermentation.

And as per the 1939 Rules, there are at present eight Palmgur federations registered with the Tamil Nadu Palm Development Board. These federations are authorised to issue Neera License to the tappers who are the members of the Societies under these Federations.

The license incidentally is issued only for traditional and old methods of Neera extraction (using lime) and this permission for tapping, transportation and marketing of Neera and Neera-based jaggery is expected to expire in a fortnight's time, a board official told this correspondent.

When asked what changes are required in the State's Prohibition Act, the official stressed the need for taking Neera out of the definition of Toddy. “It is a health drink. This simple amendment would help create around 2.40 lakh “Green Collar jobs” and increase the State's revenue by Rs 47500 cr.”

The Act of 1937 was implemented when modern food processing technology was not developed for preservation of food products. The CDB has at least six modern technologies for preservation of Neera up to one year without fermentation. Hence there is no rationale in keeping the unfermented juice under Toddy/ liquor.

Highlighting the opportunity for Neera in Tamil Nadu, the Deputy Director of CDB T Balasudhahari said it can give a facelift to coconut sugar industry. “Though India is a leading producer of coconut globally, our production of coconut sugar is “nil”. We import around 20000 tonnes of coconut palm sugar annually.”

“The State can consider giving Neera tapping license through Farmer- Producer Organisations (FPOs) and allay fear of misuse of Neera as Toddy. The Board has evolved a three-tier structure – Coconut farmers group themselves and moot a society. In the next stage, about 15 to 25 societies come together to form a Coconut Producer Federation (CPF) and finally 10 – 15 such federations join hands to form a Coconut-Producer Company (CPC).

“There are at present 471 Coconut Producer Societies, 61 CPFs and 11 CPCs in the State,” the CDB DD said.

Published on December 18, 2015

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