Staff Reporter

Says farmers should have the right to produce Neera from coconut trees

Kisan Sabha calls for changes in liquor policy

Seeks steps to diversify products from coconut

PALAKKAD: General secretary of State council of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) Sathyan Mokeri has urged the State government to bring about changes in the liquor policy so as to allow the coconut farmers to produce Neera health drink from coconut trees.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Mr. Mokeri said the crash in the price of coconut to an all time low of Rs.2 per nut has hit the 20 lakh coconut farmers in the State. The import of coconut, tender coconut and coconut oil from South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries had resulted in the present crisis. Thus value-added products should be made from coconut.

Popular drink

Neera has become popular worldwide and in countries like Sri Lanka it is the national drink and is replacing branded soft drinks like Coca Cola and Pepsi. Thus it is high time the Kerala government should take steps to diversify the products from coconut.

The required technology for its preservation and marketing were developed by the Kerala Agricultural University, he said.

Now on an average a farmer gets just Rs.200 per coconut tree annually. But if he is allowed to produce Neera a farmer could earn Rs.7,200 from a single tree annually. From one tree two litres of Neera could be produced daily and it could be tapped for six months a year. Thus from a single tree 360 litres of Neera could be produced. If the price was fixed at Rs.20 per litre, the farmer would get Rs.7,200 annually from a single tree, he said.

The Kisan Sabha leader said coconut trees were facing various diseases and the government should have a comprehensive coconut management plan.

Procurement

He said the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) should buy coconut directly from farmers instead of buying copra from the market. Copra is not the product of farmers but that of traders.

He demanded a minimum price of Rs.6 for a coconut. The Kerafed, cooperative societies and Nafed should buy coconut from the farmers to help them to get a minimum support price.

Since 20 lakh people were engaged in coconut cultivation and it was the backbone of our economy, the Central and State governments should take steps to help the coconut farmers, he said.

Mr. Mokeri said that a national campaign for the protection of coconut farmers would be launched by the All India Kisan Sabha from October 31.

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