The Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business has set in motion the process of forming farmers’ producer companies for production of neera in Vedaranyam block in the district.
Earlier this year, a meeting of coconut farmers in the block was conducted by the department to determine their preparedness for tapping neera. The farmers were enthusiastic about the schemes of the Coconut Development Board for ensuring steady income generation through tapping neera. However, they sought a few months time since the price of tender coconuts and coconuts in the market was highly remunerative. Also, the farmers were pro-occupied with paddy harvest, a senior official said.
In Nagapattinam district, neera production process will take considerable time, as cold storage and other infrastructure facilities needed to be developed in rural areas, the official said.
The farmers are, nevertheless, being prepared for the task. Last week, a group of coconut farmers from the district took part in an awareness programme organised by the department on formation of farmers’ producer society at Thanjavur.
The department is keen on replicating the model in Kerala, where the Coconut Development Board has facilitated formation of a number of coconut producer societies. As per the procedure, coconut farmers with about 4,000 to 10,000 coconut trees in a geographically well-defined area can form a coconut producer society (CPS).
A farmer has to own at least 10 bearing coconut palms in the area coming under the CPS. Coconut producers’ federations (CPF) to which licences are issued by CPS for neera production are formed out of aggregation of 20 to 25 CPS units.
A coconut producers’ company needs to have a valid licence under the Food Safety and Standards Authority Act, 2006, for tapping, transporting and selling neera, sources said.
The department is entrusted with the task of forming CPCs in the wake of the Prohibition and Excise Department notifying Tamil Nadu Neera Rules, 2017, to eliminate obstacles in the way of deriving economic benefit from the health drink by utilising the schemes of the CDB.