Neera is a delicious sap obtained by tapping the coconut inflorescence. Neera as a drink contains an abundant source of minerals, 17 types of amino acid, vitamin C & B. These drinks are diabetic friendly and they can be used as a supplement for iron deficiency. The neera can be turned into numerous value-added products such as neera syrup, coco sugar when it is evaporated and can be turned to toddy and coconut arrack when it is fermented.
In India, agriculture is the livelihood of 58% of the population, where the majority of agriculture is concentrated in rural parts of India. Four southern states of India have relayed on coconut cultivation for centuries and coconut tapping was a better income for the farmers. Tapping is typically a caste-oriented job. This caste is considered in a less privileged community. Because of this, the problem faced by the tappers were never addressed for decades. This job requires heavy manual labor moreover the income was a namesake. Above all, this kind of job has a high-risk factor. There are no safety measures used by the tappers at the time of climbing. The risk of fatal fall on this job was large and lost many lives of the tappers. Due to this lots of tappers tend to give away the tapping process and they go to a much easier job. Because of this, the total tapping industry was shrinking down. However, the modern world has realized the health benefits of tapped Neera and its value-added products. As a result, realizing the potential of Neera tapping, the India Government has taken various initiatives and support to rejuvenate this coconut tapping industry. Unfortunately, all these initiatives were failed due to the scarcity of tappers. Tappers are only available for 1% of its market requirement. Thus the majority of the neera producing companies wounded up from their business. To address this issue, we found that the mechanization of tapping is the only solution to rejuvenate this dying art.
M.Ramachandran commission said that by tapping 10% of 180 million coconut trees in Kerala, returns from neera to the GDP would be USD 8 Million. India has 2 million hectares of coconut plantation at an average of 177 trees per hectare, will be of 350 million trees. Millions of job will be created for tapping, processing, logistic, marketing in all major coconut producing countries Indonesia, Philippines, India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, Tanzania etc.
We, NAVA, an aspiring group of engineers and traditional tappers together are working on developing a Fully Automatic Neera Tapping Device. Our device will work stand-alone and mimic the traditional way of tapping and the produced neera then will be collected to centralized storage through a network of tubing which can connect from 10 trees to several thousand of trees. By introducing our device to the farmers and tappers, will revolutionize the coconut tapping and thereby mass-producing Neera and its value-added products. In the short run, this will eradicate the poverty in rural areas and in the long run, it'll eventually replace the unhealthy soft drinks and cane sugar. Even with manual tapping, the current market of coconut sugar is 1.1 Billion US Dollars. This can be scaled to several folds by integrating our solution with organized farming. We have obtained an Indian patent grant and the International Patent Cooperation Treaty(PCT) where all 15 of 15 claims have been approved for novelty, inventive steps, and industrial applicability.
To tap a single inflorescence, a tapper has to climb 3 times a day for a period of three months till the complete life cycle of an inflorescence; resulting 270 times of climbing. These 270 times of climbing can be replaced with two climbing. Normally a tapper climbs a minimum of 30 times a day. Using the device if tapper climbs only 4 times a day will result in multiplying the productivity by 36 times. All the neera producing companies wind up their business due to the scarcity of neera.
Advantages: 270 times of tree climbing reduced to 2 times, Reduces the manual effort of the tapper and multiplies the productivity to a minimum 36 folds, contamination-free produces, suitable for taller trees, works with solar power, centralized collection via network tubing, instant refrigeration to prevent fermentation.
Currently, we are funded by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) under project Ankur, Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) under Idea day grant and Maker Village under seed fund. We are recognized by the Coconut Development Board of India.