Agri Business

Tapping neera: Cultivation of fish tail palm takes roots in Telangana, AP

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 22, 2021

Fish tail palm yields 40-50 litres of juice a day as against five litres from toddy palm

Confined so far for ornamental use, it’s now being tapped for ‘neera’

Fish tail palm is quite popular with wedding planners as the palm family tree gives an exotic look. Seeing the huge demand, nurseries across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are raising the seedlings of the ornamental tree in large numbers.

But that doesn’t reflect its true potential, argues PC Vengaiah, a scientist at the Dr YSR Horticultural University in Andhra Pradesh.

Neera, the juice collected from the flower stalks, is rich in nutrients. Its by-products include jaggery, sweeteners and sugar syrup.

“Its yields are higher than that of the toddy palm and date palm. But there is not much research on this palm variety. We have submitted a proposal to the Dept of Science & Technology, seeking grants for research,” Vengaiah said.

Vengaiah, who is working on an All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on toddy palm, chanced upon the fish tail palm, abundantly grown in the hilly areas of Eastern Ghats.

“With the help of the locals, we identified a few high-yielding varieties which give up to 40-50 litres a day as against five litres yielded from toddy palm,” he said. “Interest in the palm variety is growing among the farmers. Nurseries in Kadiyam have sent about 5 lakh saplings to Telangana for the State’s flagship Harita Haaram programme,” Vengaiah said.

M Appi Reddy, a 72-year-old progressive farmer, approached a biotech company to collect the tissue from these high-yielding varieties and develop material to grow nurseries. Simultaneously, he is collecting wild genetic material from the Eastern Ghats and develop seedlings. “We are developing a nursery on three acres at Bikanelli near Bodhan. We are taking the help of millet guru Khadar Vali in developing quality seed material,” Appi Reddy, who represents the All-India Kisan Coordination Committee in Telangana, told BusinessLine.

Like other palm varieties, fish tail palm takes 4-5 years to grow and yield the juice.

Published on January 22, 2021

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