ERODE: Referring to the State Government's endorsement for tapping of'neera' during 2010, farmers have decided to produce and market thebeverage from February in the district.C. Nallasamy, president, Lower Bhavani Project Farmers' Welfare Association, said during the farmers' grievance meet chaired by theDistrict Collector S. Prabakar last week that there was no bar on tapping of ‘neera’, considered a health drink. Unlike in the case of coconut treesfor which chemical fertilizers have been used for growth, tapping of ‘neera’ from palm trees that grow naturally would have more value. The‘neera’ would be tapped and marketed to other States and even abroad, Mr.Nallasamy said, handing over to the Collector a written document conveying the Government's permission for tapping ‘neera’, deeming it anenergy beverage.Attempts would be made for replication of procurement and marketing practices in neighbouring Kerala, through formation ofsocieties, federations and bottling companies, he said.The State Government had, during 2010, announced that ‘neera’ would beprocured from the members of Palm Workers' Welfare Board for Rs. 10per litre, and that Rs. one crore would be provided to the Board for installing chilling facilities to store the procured ‘neera’.Mr. Nallasamy also drew the district administration's attention tounderpayment to farmers at the Direct Procurement Centres. Though the farmers ought to be paid Rs. 1,410 per quintal for coarse variety ofpaddy, and Rs. 1,470 for fine variety, they were paid Rs. 1 lesser per kilogram, Mr. Nallasamy charged. The productivity had taken a beatingthis time due to pest attack, and increase in harvest expenditure.Also, the returns for hay was just one third of the rate that prevailed last year, he said.Replying to apprehensions raised by farmers about shortage of urea in certain parts of the district, Agriculture Department officials assured that the shortage would be rectified as the urea stock hasbeen replenished with 2,650 tonnes.Farmers were critical of the Government's silence over the willingness of sugar mills to pay only Rs. 2,300 per tonne, which, they lamentedwas not only much below the State Advisory Price, but also lesser than the amount (Rs. 2,385) paid last year. They wondered how private millswere permitted to underpay the farmers when the Cooperative and PublicSector mills complied with the Government's SAP recommendation fully.The Collector assured to look into their complaint.