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Last Updated Monday June 26 2017 09:14 AM IST

Kerala’s Neera faces stiff competition from Tamil Nadu

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Neera Neera, a nutritious health drink. Photo: Manorama

Alappuzha: Once billed as an energy booster for Kerala’s coconut farming sector, Neera is slowly losing its fizz it seems.

Even as the non-alcoholic beverage made from the sap of the coconut trees, takes a foothold in the agricultural products market in Kerala, farmers from neighboring Tamil Nadu have sensed an opportunity.

Private companies from Tamil Nadu have already approached farmers’ cooperatives in Kerala with an offer to supply Neera raw materials at a much cheaper price. Huge Neera manufacturing plants have already been set up in Coimbatore, Palladam and Pollachi areas with an eye on Kerala’s fledgling market.

A prominent Neera producers’ society in north Kerala has even signed an agreement to buy the raw materials from a Tamil Nadu company. The companies offer to supply the beverage in air-conditioned containers.

The cost of producing a liter of Neera is only Rs 30 in Tamil Nadu, less than half the cost in Kerala.

Kerala produces 10,000 liters of Neera a day through 29 companies under the Coconut Development Board. Still the volume can satisfy only half of the demand, particularly from the tourism sector.

Tamil Nadu’s push into the market is sure to dim Kerala farmers’ chances of finding a sustained livelihood.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister has taken the initiative to spread Neera manufacturing in the Salem region. In contrast, farmers in Kerala are yet to see any significant government assistance.

The government had even excluded Neera from a recent order about granting licenses to abkari contractors.

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