Neera (palm nectar), a sweet, natural coolant, is collected from palm trees between mid January and May every year.
But the season is nearing its end quite early this year, as the yield from palm trees has come down heavily because of scant rain last year.
The number of persons selling ‘pathanir’ alongside the roads have came down too.
The drink having medicinal value is usually collected twice a day.
It is used for making jaggery too. “Palm trees have very high drought resistance. But the neera yield is affected when rainfall dips,” said V. Vijayalakshmi, Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Palm Products Development Board.
She said that Krishnagiri district has more than two lakh palm trees. Mathur, Pochampalli, Eechanngadu, Muttapatti, Kalarpathi, Kodipathi, Madhampatti, and Chanipathi have a thick concentration of palm trees.
“There are about one lakh trees in Salem district. There is a thick population of these trees at Thanavathiyur, Vanavasi, Tharamangalam, and Periyampatti,” Ms. Vijayalakshmi said and added that not all the trees are used for tapping palm nectar.
She said that male palm trees begin yielding neera during the early days of the season — from mid January to February.
“They yield about 10 litres to 15 litres a day. The female trees begin yielding when the yield of male trees starts dropping. But the female trees yield 20 litres to 25 litres a tree a day and for a longer period,” she said.
This year the yield has dropped by 50 per cent and has badly affected the livelihood of people who depend on it for a living,” she added.