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Bihar govt to tie up with TN agri varsity to develop ‘Neera’

PATNA: Agricultural University Sabour (Bhagalpur) and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) would sign a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for sharing information and technology for developing ‘Neera’ as a nutrient drink in the state. Agriculture scientists from both the universities would jointly work in developing ‘Neera’ as a commercially viable and healthy drink.

This was decided at a high-level meeting held here on Thursday under the chairmanship of CM Nitish Kumar in which an expert from Tamil Nadu Ponnusamy V, former dean (horticulture) TNAU, has made power point presentation (PPT) for making palm products competitive and attractive, to introduce modern concepts in the palm products industry, to promote research for the development of palm products industry, to better utilise palm products and to achieve a social objective of alleviating rural poverty among the workers of the palm products.

Tamil Nadu has the maximum number of toddy trees and with the help of Indian Council of Research, TNAU has been doing an in-depth research for the last 25 years on toddy.

The expert from TN expert shared information with Bihar government on this subject.

Experts said juice extracted before sunrise from the toddy tree is ‘Neera’. Apart from this, other products are also beneficial. Those associated with toddy trade would involve self-help group or Jeevika for collection and processing of Neera should be done through these only, said an official.

TNAU is rated as the Best Agricultural University in India by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi as an institute of excellence for higher education in Agricultural and allied subjects.

After listening experts, CM Nitish Kumar directed the officials to prepare a comprehensive work plan for development “Neera” as a industry. He also asked officials to initiate the process of survey work of the counting of palm tree located in the state and assess the production of ‘Neera’.

The CM also said that the industry would be developed by utilising the byproducts of palm tree. He also said that the SHGs and Jeevika workers would be actively involved.

On the pattern of Tamil Nadu, Bihar is likely to prepare plan for the palm products development units, palm jaggery, palm leaf and fibre marketing and trading activities.

Another expert Subathra Devi also made her presentation before the CM in which she talked about the betterment of palm tree tappers in the state. Devi, a chartered accountant, owns ‘Ecobuddy’ organisation at Tuticorin in TN, conteptualized with a vision to support environment and for the betterment of the lives of palm tree tappers in India, particularly those in several TN districts.

According to her, replacing consumption of cane sugar with palm sugar supports environment in a significant way as sugarcane is one of the thirsty crop which sucks out ground water which is not easy to replenish 100%.

CM Nitish Kumar on April 5 clarified that there would be no blanket ban on toddy sale and consumption but its consumption is banned at public places in both urban and rural areas, near educational institutions, religious places and health centres, as it has been in the state according to excise law for toddy since April 1991.

Besides industry minister Jay Kumar Singh, all the top bureaucrats including chief secretary Anajni K Singh, development commissioner Shishir Sinha, APC Vijoy Prakash, principal secretary industry S Siddharth, principal secretary finance Ravi Mittal and several others participated in the meeting.

Source: Times of India, May 26, 2016

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