Procure neera to guard tappers, say farmers

Tirupur: With raising crack down by the police against tapping of neera, farmers in Tirupur and Coimbatore districts have urged the government to procure neera as it does for milk.
The farmers alleged that the police have broken pots placed for collecting neera in more than 10 places in both the districts. “In the past week, two people including a farmer and a tree climber were arrested and kept in jail for two days,” said a farmer.

“It was already difficult to extract neera with existing ban on toddy. Besides the police were treating us as criminals with high-handedness,” he added.

“After the government approval, more than 500 farmers in Tirupur and Coimbatore districts started extracting neera in 10-15% of total coconut trees they have,” said A S Babu, Coimbatore district president of Katchi Saarbatra Tamizhaga Vivasaigal Sangam.

“A farmer may fetch about Rs 40,000 per annum, if the business is good. It would help during the drought-hit agriculture. But the police were destroying pots placed for collecting neera and also seizing the beverage. It would take Rs 150 to place a pot,” Babu said.

“The police want the farmers to form a society and start a processing company. But it was not possible to start a company as it would demand a huge investment,” he added

“neera extraction has been a successful business in Kerala mainly because there was no toddy ban. While all other southern states were not having such ban, why Tamil Nadu has one,” he questioned.

“Taking advantage of the rule, the police were putting the farmers in peril by damaging their properties and also booking them,” he said.

The state government allowed tapping of neera, sweet toddy, which is pre-form of toddy. If neera gets fermented, it will become toddy. Toddy extraction has been banned in the state since 1987.

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