Awareness about the benefits of tapping sweet toddy (neera) from coconut trees and the income that it could generate will be the main topic of the series of seminars to be organised by Agriculture department, first of which will be inaugurated in Kozhikode on Saturday by M.K. Raghavan, MP.

Recent estimates by agricultural experts say that each coconut tree could yield ‘neera’ that will fetch Rs.3,000 a month. After paying tapper’s wages, the monthly income from each coconut could be Rs.1,500.

If even one per cent of the nearly 18-crore coconut trees in the State is set aside for tapping sweet toddy (neera), a huge income could be generated. Tappers would also get more employment opportunities and income. Neera–based value added products like palm sugar and jaggery could also be made.

Such information on the benefits of tapping neera would be explained by experts at the seminar and farmers convention on Saturday, the venue of which would be the New Nalanda Auditorium, a spokesman for Agriculture department said. The seminar will also have Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan inaugurating a coconut farmers’ convention in the afternoon. Farm scientists from Kerala Agriculture University (KAU) will speak on various aspects of ‘neera’ production. An exhibition on value-added products of coconut has also been arranged.

The seminar will also discuss the recommendations of the ‘neera committee’, appointed by the State government. The committee, in its report, has said the licence for production and marketing of neera could be issued by making necessary amendments to the existing “rules regarding issue of licence for drawing sweet toddy”. Under the existing abkari rules, farmers are not allowed to tap ‘neera’.

The report has also recommended that the licence for tapping ‘neera’ should continue to be obtained from Excise department as stipulated by the existing rules. Constant monitoring by the Excise department has also been recommended.

The Principal Agriculture Officer of Agriculture department said on Wednesday that, with technology developed by Coconut Board with support from Kerala Agriculture University and Central Food Technology Research Institute in Mysore, it was now possible to ensure a long shelf live for ‘neera’.

The first of a series of seminars will be held in Kozhikode on Saturday