A Rs. 10.46-lakh proposal has been sent to the State government

While efforts are on to upgrade the machinery at the Horticulture Department’s pilot neera processing unit at Thumbe, it has proposed to open a training centre for neera tapping on the same premises.

The centre has been proposed at a time when the State government is expected to announce a neera policy at any time, allowing neera tapping in all districts. The department here has sent a Rs. 10.46-lakh proposal to the government to open the training centre.

According to Yogesh H.R., Deputy Director, Department of Horticulture, the funds for the same could be drawn from the Coconut Development Board (CDB), which has funds reserved under neera technicians’ training programme.

Regular tapping

He said that coconut growers in Dakshina Kannada and its neighbouring districts could think of going for regular neera tapping only if enough number of trained tappers were available. Forming federations of coconut growers alone would not help in earning additional income by tapping neera.

Mr. Yogesh said that the department here recently got 12 persons trained in neera tapping under the training programme of the Board. The Board has issued them master trainer certificates. The trained tappers could be used for training other interested farmers. The department has proposed the government that the unit at Thumbe could also be used as master training centre.

It is proposed to conduct training for 60 tappers in three batches as 20 trainees each in a year. Initially they could manage the tapping and processing in Dakshina Kannada.

The Deputy Director said that the department has released Rs. 64.75 lakh to Palakkad Coconut Producers’ Company Ltd., Kerala, for upgrading the machineries at Thumbe unit. It has been entrusted with the operation and maintenance of the unit at Thumbe for three years from March, 2014.

Earlier the department had released Rs. 15 lakh to the company for the purpose.

Machinery would be upgraded using the technology of the Central Food and Technological Research Institute, Mysuru. Using the upgraded technology it has been planned to manufacture flavoured neera at the unit. The packing would be upgraded from plastic sachets to pet bottles.