KVIC taps Indian palm industry to create new jobs, organic products

New Delhi (NVI): The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched a project that aims at promoting Neera — a sweet sap extracted from the inflorescence of coconut palms– as a substitute to soft drinks and Palmgur (jaggery) while also creating self-employment to Adivasis and traditional trappers.

KVIC has rolled out a unique project to produce Neera and Palmgur which has huge potential to create employment in the country, the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) said in a statement today.

The project was launched yesterday at Dahanu in Palghar district of Maharashtra, a state with more than 50 lakh palm trees.

On the occasion, KVIC also distributed tool kits for extraction of Neera and making palmgur to 200 local artisans who were given 7 days training by the commission.

“A tool kit worth Rs 15,000 comprises food grade stainless steel Kadhai, perforated moulds, canteen burners and other equipment like knives, rope and axes for extraction of Neera. The initiative will provide direct employment to 400 local traditional trappers,” the ministry said.

Neera, extracted from the palm trees before sunrise, is a nutrient-rich health drink consumed in many Indian states. However, due to lack of institutionalized market technique, the commercial production and large scale marketing of Neera has not commenced yet, as per the ministry.

The ministry said that the project has been rolled out on the initiative of Union Minister of MSME, Nitin Gadkari who is also exploring the feasibility of engaging some big players of the state to start using Neera as soft drinks to make it commercially useful.

There are approximately 10 crore palm trees across the country. Further, a wide range of products like candies, milk chocolates, palm cola, ice-cream and traditional sweets can be produced from Neera if properly marketed. At present palmgur Neera worth Rs 500 crore is traded in the country. The turnover is likely to increase manifold with commercial production of Neera, the ministry said in a release.

The KVIC has prepared a detailed project report on production of Neera and Palmgur (jaggery). It is proposed to start standardized collection, processing and packing of Neera under controlled conditions so as to prevent it from fermentation. The processed Neera, through cold chain, is intended to reach the B2C supply chain, the MSME ministry said.

“On the lines of coconut water, we are working to promote Neera as a substitute to the soft drinks available in the market. Neera is organic and rich in nutrients and thus a complete health drink. With increasing the production and marketing of Neera, we are trying to establish it as a key vertical of India’s village industry,” KVIC Chairman Vinai Saxena said, while distributing tool kits to the artisans via video-conference.

He said the production of Neera has high potential in terms of sale as well as creation of self-employment. “Palm industry can be a major employment generator in India. It is aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call of self-reliance and vocal for local,” Saxena said.

According to the MSME Ministry, Neera has high export potential as it is also consumed in countries like Sri Lanka, Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar. India has an abundance of palm fields in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Daman & Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that can make India a leading producer of Neera globally.