Neera is the sap extracted from the spathe or the immature flower spike of coconut trees. Neera is a delicious natural, non alcoholic beverage and high in nutritional value. It is sweet, light golden in colour and translucent. Neera is fast becoming a popular drink. It contains acids like ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C), nicotinic acid (Vitamin B3 and vitamin PP) and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Its BRIX level is 16 [sugars] compared to 12 in sugarcane juice. Neera has a low glycemic count at 35 compared to cane sugar or sugarcane juice that has a glycemic count of 80.
Neera is used as a fresh drink or blended with other fruit juices, eliminating the addition of cane sugar. It can also be made into coconut syrup, honey, jaggery and sugar. Unlike refined cane sugar, no chemicals are used in coconut sugar production and it is a far healthier substitute than cane sugar. The coconut sugar demand is growing substantially around the world, with the US being the largest importer.
Deejay sees a huge potential for the farmer in the opportunities opening up due to the increased demand for coconut sugar. Studies show that sugarcane can produce 7 to 9 tonnes of sugar per hectare, consuming between 3,000 liters [drip system and 18,000 liters flood irrigation] of water to produce a single kilo of sugar. Comparatively, the Sampoorna, due to its high output of Neera per day i.e. 5 to 12 liters per tree, can produce more than 40 tonnes per hectare using just 200 liters of water to produce one kilo of coconut sugar.