Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-03-19 19:50 Bengaluru: In a shot in the arm for farmers engaged in neera production, the Central Plantation Crops Research and Institute (CPCRI) has come out with coco-sap chiller technology, which not only can help in tapping neera (sap) from coconut spadix, but also ensure it remains alcohol free.Dr P Chowdappa, Director, CPCRI, Kasargod, said that India had 2.1 million hectares under coconut cultivation and 23,531 million nuts were produced annually. “If we tap just 10 percent of this, we would be able to get Rs 36,000 crores,” said Chowdappa.In Karnataka, coconut is cultivated on 5.51 lakh hectares. So far, this technology has been adopted by Kerala and Goa and West Bengal has also shown interest. “Traditionally, neera is misunderstood for toddy, as a result of which it has been brought under state excise department. Now, there is a need for revision of rules as this new technology ensures neera remains unfermented, devoid of lime, clay and leaf extract and comes with zero percent of alcohol content in it,” said Chowdappa.This devise is useful in collecting sap from other palms as well. The chiller can collect anywhere between 2 litres from each tree and ecah litre is priced at Rs150. The chiller itself costs between Rs 1,750 to 2,000. The farmer can extract sap upto 30 days.“This product is good for diabetic patients as it contains natural sugars with antioxidants, has fiber and also potassium. It can used as a sports drink and is good for children and women who are anemic,” said Dr Chowdappa.Stressing on the lucrativeness of practising integrated farming, like involving coconut crop along with vegetables and dairy farming, a farmer can earn more than 8 lakh rupees annually per acre if he uses his skills rightly, said Chowdappa.Apart from neera, taking up coconut crop may be beneficial as there is great potential in virgin coconut oil extracted from fresh coconut, coconut milk, copra, chocolate, chips, coconut sugar, jaggery and honey."Virgin coconut oil has Vitamin E and helps in boosting lauric acid, reduces obesity, few say it is also useful for Alzheimer patients," said Chowdappa.Dr KB Hebbar, HoD, Central Plantation Crops Research and Institute Kasargod said the technology had already been adopted by countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia and the institute will be ready to share the technology with any state coming forward. The importance of coconutsCoconut contributes Rs92,000 mn annually to country's GDP.Karnataka produces 5,141 million nuts.In India, 45 percent of production goes into culinary and for religious purpose, 35 percent goes into conversion into copra, 15 percent are sold as tender nuts, only 2 percent for seed purpose.- Source, CPCRI.