In a bid to revive the Neera industry, the state government has decided to formulate standards for the production and marketing of the non-alcoholic beverage under a common brand name.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting convened by agriculture minister V S Sunil Kumar.Two committees were constituted under the agriculture department to draw up the guidelines for uniform standards and marketing strategy. Neera-based products under the common brand name would hit the market in Tetra Paks in seven months’ time, the minister said.
The government would provide assistance to farmer producer companies for the production and marketing of the drink, he added.
The project to revitalise the natural drink, which is extracted from coconut tree, through unified branding was first initiated by the previous UDF government. The minister made it clear that the LDF government was committed to take the idea forward.
Currently, the technical assistance for the extraction and processing of the health drink is provided by the Coconut Development Corporation, Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, and the Agriculture University. The panel for the unification of standards comprises experts representing these three institutions. The committee would submit its report to the government within two weeks.
The seven-member panel, constituted to decide on a common brand name and logo, has members of farmers’ collectives in it. The first meeting of the two committees is scheduled for May 22.
The government would make a provision for financial assistance under the Technology Mission on Coconut to the 29 Neera farmer producer companies from the next financial year onwards. Arrangements would be made for the collectives to use the service of the public sector Tetra Pak manufacturing units at Palakkad and Vazhakulam. Also, government departments would oversee promotional campaigns and the marketing of the drink.
According to the minister, several private companies, including biscuits and confectionery-maker Parle Products, have approached the government for the commercial production of Neera. “We don’t want private firms to be involved in the project. Our aim is to provide maximum benefits to the farmers. The government would also address the concerns raised by toddy tappers’ unions with regard to Neera production,” the minister added.