As many as three firms which produce up to 650 litres of neera per day have stopped operations unable to supply their produce across the state.
“Neera, which has a low shelf life of just three days, was sent to different parts of the state through omni buses. However, the supply could not be made as bus services were stopped due to lockdown. The demand for the drink has also come down due to closure of commercial establishments and offices,” said K Padmanaban, chairman of Vinayaga Coconut Producers Company.
Touted as an alternative to the toxic aerated drinks of multinational firms, the production of neera began to pick up and was expected to reach peak in the summer months, but unfortunately COVID-19 has come as a huge setback.
“We alone were producing over 300 litres per day and were hoping to double up during summer when the demand usually shoots up. Nevertheless, the situation has forced us to shut down operations from April 1. Production in all likelihood may resume only in September,” he added.
Farmers said that they have incurred severe loss due to closure of firms involved in neera production. The pandemic has struck at a time, when the firms were struggling for survival.
Farmers faulted lack of government support to be the reason behind the failure of neera in commercial market. “There was nil subsidy or marketing support from the government. High production cost, increasing labour charges and white fly menace in coconut trees is also contributing to the losses. We have planned to seek some financial support from the state for our survival,” said another manufacturer, requesting anonymity.
- Just 3 days, shelf life of neera preserved at less than 5 Degree Celsius.
- State issued GO for neera tapping on December 12, 2017
- Neera tapping operations started in February 2018
- Production began in Pollachi region due to presence of large coconut farms