We have been witnessing a drastic change in the lifestyle of people across the world. People were largely interested in soft drinks and health drinks available in the market, which are extremely harmful for health. Reports have been coming out that per year around 184000 people are losing their lives because of the so-called synthetic soft drinks. Realizing this, many people are now coming towards a more natural and healthy option. The ready-to-drink Neera is one of the most natural and nutrient-rich health drinks available in the market. Drinking Neera is good for keeping the body hydrated and its powerful antioxidants will help you feel refreshed and full of energy. It also regulates body’s fluid balance, control temperature and digest food. Keeping in mind these factors, the Coconut Board has promoted the ever natural and healthy Neera as a viable option.
Neera can be concentrated to different brix (value of total solids) level at different temperatures to produce primary products like Neera sugar, Neera jaggery, Neera semi solid jaggery, jaggery syrup, Neera honey and Neera concentrate. Another advantage is that working moms and cookaholics get a great choice for substituting normal cane sugar, with natural and healthy Neera sugar/jaggery/syrup/honey in almost all the dishes and make wonderful, energizing and healthy foods for your loved ones. Neera sugar is an unrefined sugar and is known to be rich in vitamins and minerals. Consumption of Neera sugar helps reduce & maintain weight, control & manage diabetes and is naturally rich in a number of key vitamins (A, B & C), minerals and phytonutrients, including potassium, phosphorous, zinc, iron and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. Neera drink can be given to school children as a nutritious health drink. Neera chocolates would also be a hit among school children.
The job opportunity this creates is also a commendable one. There is an urgent requirement of 25000 Neera tappers in Kerala. Extracting Neera requires a technically skilled person to perform activities such as climbing tree, skillfully stimulating the inflorescence, application of disinfectant, wrapping the inflorescence etc in a hygienic manner. So to venture into the production of Neera and its value added products there is an immediate need to create a task force of ‘Neera technicians’. Coconut Development Board has taken the initiative of developing a pool of skilled Neera technicians. This training is of a period of 56 days. It is open for anyone from any profession or unemployed youth belonging to the age group of 18-45 years. Average monthly income of a neera technician is approxRs. 20000/-. Till now Board has imparted training to 1559 neera technicians through CPCs. Government of Kerala has allocated Rs. 12 crores for neera technicians training and would incur Rs. 10000 per person for the training.
There are Neera technicians in Kaipuzha Coconut Producer Company Ltd., who have drawn nearly half a lakh as their monthly remuneration. The situation is same in other producer companies also. KCPCL had given training to people from Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Jharkhand and Lakshadweep for these green collar jobs and utilizing their services for the company. If one per cent of Neera is tapped in Kerala, it would create around one lakh job opportunities. The traditional toddy tappers get ample number of opportunities in this field. Around 345 toddy tappers, who have been given 15 days of training by Coconut Development Board; have been appointed as Master Technicians so far. The Neera project not only gives opportunity to the technicians or the climbers but also creates lot of scope in value-addition too. Neera can be used in bakery products, sweets, confectionaries etc. There are ample opportunities in the food processing sector also. CDB is imparting training for those who are interested in this field. The producer companies, which are already formed and those who are on the pipeline also needs highly qualified management professionals and different levels of qualified personnel for smooth functioning of the company.
-By Mini Mathew ,Publicity Officer & Arya Aravind, Journalist, CDB Kochi