Palmyrah Tapping

The palm, botanical known as “Palma” is described as princess of vegetable kingdom in the British Encyclopedia which lists over 2000 varieties of palm and out of which only nine varieties are yielding sweet juice, popularly known as “Neera”. Among this nine sugar yielding palms only four general varieties are found in India as given below:

  • Coconut Palm : Cocos nucifera
  • Date Palm : Phoenix sylvestries
  • Palmyrah Palm : Borossus flabelliformis
  • Sago Palm : Caryota urens

Neera is not only sweet and delicious, but also has nutrients and minerals, which prove to be a good supplement to typical diet in India. Palmgur and the palm products industry date back about 4000 years and resemble an essential traditional village industry. The first industrialization of our country is also associated with the palm sugar manufacturing and with the installation of the first palm sugar factory in the year 1837 by Mr. Blake at Bardwan in West Bengal. 
Extraction of neera from four types of palms and its season

Palmyrah Palm

January to June

Date Palm

October to May

Sago Palm

Dacember to April

Coconut Palm Throughout the year

The uses of the diffrent parts of the Palmyrah Palm

  • Naar - Basket making
  • Timber - House Construction, walking stick.
  • Spathe cover - Broom making
  • Petiole of young tree - Fencing of Garden
  • Frond - Fibre Extraction
  • Karukku - Rope for bundling
  • Agani - Cot weaving, Basket Making
  • Tender leaf - Fancy leaf articles
  • Matured leaf - Roofing, Packing
  • Eark/Fibre - Brush Making, Basket Making, window Making

Edible and non-edible products from palms


Neera, Palm Jaggery, Palm Candy, Palm Sugar, Fruits Jam, Syrup, Chocolates, Toffees, Confectionery items are made by Palm Sugar)


Palm Fibre Brush, Palm Leaf Fancy Articles, Naar Articles, Palm Leaf Visiting Cards.

Potential Area

Name of the Products

Potential area


Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal Orissa, Rajesthan,

Palm Fibre

Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka

Palm Leaf articles

Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Orissa

Palmyrah Naar

Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu.

Neera, the Nectar
Neera, the delicious drink extracted from the sap of the Palm is quickly becoming popular in rural and urban areas of India. Refreshing as it is, the drink has agreeable flavour, high nutritive value and medicinal properties. It is cool and good for improvement of general health, especially as a supplement to those who have an iron and vitamin deficit. The drink improves appetite and digestion. It can be consumed in fairly large quantities without causing any harm to the body. As a good tonic to the asthmatic, anemic and leprosy patient, Neera has acted miraculously. It has also cured digestive troubles. It can also be used for preparation “GUR” syrup, rab, Palm Sugar, Palm Candy, and other Confectionery items, ice cream, various sweets.

Figures below show how nutritive the Neera is.
Each eight ounces of Neera contain.



Total Sugar /gms












Ascorbic Acid/mgms






Nicotinic Acid/mgms


Among those who operate in the Palmgur Industry only the Tamilnadu State Palmgur and fibre marketing Co.-Op Federation Ltd., Chennai is directly involved in the Export of non-edible palm products. The Andhra Pradesh State Palmgur Federation is indirectly involved in the Export. The details show export performance regarding the Palmgur Industry for last four years:


Palm Leaf articles and palm fibre Exported. (Rs. In Lakhs)

Country to which Exported



Belgium, U.K., Japan, France, Ireland, Italy, Canada, W. Germany, Australia, Philippines, etc…







The following schemes are part of the the Palmgur and Palm Products industry:
1. Neera Catering Unit
2. Family Palmgur making unit,
3. Palm fibre processing and Marketing unit,
4. Palm fibre processing and Marketing unit (Export Oriented )
5. Palm Candy Making unit,
6. Palm Sugar Making Unit,
7. Table Top Palm Fire Brush Making Unit,
8. Palm leaf fancy articles/ Visiting cards making Unit,
9. Confectionery and Indigenous Sweet Making Unit,
10. Other bye products like Coconut water vinegar, Naar articles.
Addresses of the Training cum Trading Centers, which belong to the Palmgur and Palm Products Industry

  • Dy. Director –Principal, Gajanan Naik Multi Disciplinary Training Centre, KVIC, At. Post. Dahanu Dist. Thane-401601 (Phone No. 02528-222241)
  • Dy. Director-Principal, Central Palmgur & Palm Products Institute, KVIC, Kumarappapuram, M.M.C. Post, Chennai –600051. (phone no.- 044-25555402)
  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Institute of Rural Technology and Management, KVIC, Post Trimbak Vidhya Mandir, Nasik-422213.

S&T Project within the Palmgur Industry:
With assistance of the KVIC – S&T fund and initiative introduced by the Directorate of Science and Technology cum research Project named as “ Improved Quality and Storage Stability of Neera By Membrane Filtration” was undertaken by Shri. Sanjay Nene, Scientist, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune during the years 2001 and 2002. The project has been completed after the practical demonstration at NCL, Pune.


A.P. State Palmgur Coop. Federation,
P.O. Nidadavole, Dist. West Godavari
Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh.

Gujarat State Palmgur Coop. Federation Ltd.,
C/o. Neera & Tadgud Utpadak Sahakari Mandali,
3/4265 Bonde lawad, Surat, Gujarat


Orissa State Palmgur Coop. Federation Ltd.,
At Udyogpuri, Post Khandagiri, Gundamunda,
Chowk, Bhubaneswar-30. Orissa



The Trivandrum Dist. Palm Product Dev. Coop. Fedn. Ltd.,
Parassala, P.O. 695 502, Kerala State.



Tamilnadu State Palmgur Federation Ltd.,
160 Neera Mansion, Gengu Reddy Road, Egmore,
Chennai-600 008.


West Bengal State Palmgur Coop. Federation,
4,Bepin Paul Road, Calcutta-26.

West Bengal

Palmyrah tapper's families in Tamil Nadu, India
A Case Study
Amirtharat Anandhy, PWDS
The case study of Palmyrah Workers' Development Society (PWDS) is presented in order to illustrate a situation in which PIM was introduced independently and without external advisors. The NGO had only the preliminary version of the PIM guide. PIM was applied systematically, which made it easy for the communities and the NGO's field workers to understand how it works.

1. Background
The development organization/NGO "Palmyrah Workers' Development Society" (PWDS) was founded in 1976. It was registered in 1977 under the Societies Registration Act. Since its inception, the society's main objective has been to promote the formation of a movement of palmyrah tappers and other socially and economically deprived groups for their social and economic liberation and to increase their awareness, dignity and self-reliance. This is done by guiding and encouraging them in establishing community-based income-generating units, by organizing training programs, and by participatory development of value-added palm products such as candy (sweets), syrup, spiced and refined jaggery (see glossary below). PWDS staff members come from the same social background as the palmyrah tapper families. A precondition of the development process is empowerment of the weaker sections of the population at grass-roots level. The first step towards achieving this is organization of the community. With the encouragement and guidance of PWDS, Mantram or village-level associations for tappers and women have therefore been formed in rural areas. The groups are involved in attaining self-sustained development through awareness education, community- based employment and income-generating programs, and other self-help activities, e.g. a revolving loan and savings scheme. At present, 110 women's groups and 200 tapper's groups are functioning in different parts of Kanyakumari and Trivandrum Districts. PIM is being introduced to the community-based candy production units. Community-based means that the units are owned and run by a group of palmyrah tapper families. The candy is produced in separate buildings. In the past, each family processed the neera (see glossary) in their own house, with the result that the women's workload was extremely high, children had to help in production, the houses became dirty, and the income generated by all this drudgery was very low. Motivation, financial assistance in the form of concessional loans, and technical and marketing support are provided by PWDS. The whole program relating to the candy production unit has been designed to promote participatory and self-sustained development.
Palmyrah = palm which yields sugar sap
neera = sap tapped from the flower of the palm
jaggery = solidified sugar syrup
brix = measure of sugar content in the sap (brix equivalent to % sucrose)

2. Monitoring practice prior to introduction of PIM
Development organization / NGO
Responsibility for implementing each project was assigned to different sections of PWDS, which operated with a coordinator, a supervisor and other staff members, including field workers. Planning, decision-making and monitoring were done by the superiors after joint discussions. In monitoring, the main emphasis was on assessment of activities, i.e. the technical and economic impacts of the projects. Self-help group Leaders selected by the group monitored the activities. Planning, decision-making and impact assessment were carried out jointly by the community and PWDS staff. The community's participation is assured in all phases from the start of production to the sharing of profits. The community holds meetings to take decisions on whether to set up candy production units, the location and management of the units, prices of neera and candy, employment of candy makers, profit-sharing etc. In short, the community is given the ability to monitor the units in accordance with PIM principles.
3. Introduction of the PIM concept
Development organization / NGO
PWDS introduced PIM gradually in its various programmes. In 1993, PIM was introduced in the palm product development programme. A planning session for staff members was held to decide on methods of implementing PIM in the candy-making units. At this session the steps in introduction were listed, and activities are now being carried out accordingly. Next, the staff were trained in the use of PIM tools, including assessment of socio-cultural impacts. Monitoring is now being carried out on this basis. Self-help group Group-based impact monitoring was introduced in the community-based candy production units. PWDS provided motivation and guidance. First, the members of the community were made aware of the need for PIM, to ensure their full participation and to make the programme self-sustaining.
Then they were motivated to introduce a system of this kind. The community then articulated their expectations and fears concerning the project. Corresponding
indicators were also identified. An observation committee was selected and trained in the use of PIM tools The steps in the introduction of PIM may be summarized as follows:
Steps in the introduction of PIM in community-based candy production units
1. Introduction of community and field workers to principles of PIM
2. Articulation of community's expectations and fears
3. Identification of indicators
4. Identification of monitoring team
5. Training of team
6. Documentation of observations
7. Reporting of observations, analysis of impact and corrective action if necessary

4. Details of group-based impact monitoring
With the help of PIM, the tappers' families are able to observe the changes brought about by the candy production units. Members of the self-help groups were trained as observers, e.g. they had to learn how to measure brix and pH of neera themselves. All the candy production units and PWDS meet regularly at fortnightly or monthly meetings. The monitoring results are regularly reported and assessed. Impacts are analyzed and any corrective action needed is taken jointly by the community. In the course of time the system has become well established in the units. Some of the community's expectations and fears and the indicators derived from these are listed below:
Higher profit from candy production than from jaggery production Production of high-quality candy with high yield
Generation of alternative employment for women
Promotion of saving habit
Development of production unit (e.g. construction of their own building)
Cost of producing candy; candy and jaggery prices; profit given to tappers
Candy yield and quality; brix of neera; pH of neera
No. of women doing alternative jobs
No. of members saving
attendance at meeting; participation in the project
Tappers may not cooperate in supplying neera
Tappers may not supply quality neera
PWDS may not pass on full profit to tappers
No. of tappers supplying neera; total quantity of neera supplied
Brix of neera; pH of neera
Profit given to tappers

5. Details of NGO-based impact monitoring
NGO-based impact monitoring is carried out by PWDS. PIM principles were discussed among the
staff members and decisions were taken on how to implement NGO-based impact monitoring. The
NGO's expectations and fears with regard to the project were listed, and indicators to measure
them were identified.
Candy can be produced with high yield
Gradually the community will take more and more responsibility for the unit, including
analyzing impact, processing candy and maintaining accounts
Reduction of women's workload
More people may join the project
New groups may set up candy production units
PO will undertake other needbased projects
Candy yield and quality
List of responsibilities taken by group
Reduction in women's working hours
Number of partners actively participating in the project
List of groups with established candy production units
List of new schemes initiated by group (e.g. community savings, community credit)
Whether tappers' families will cooperate and become involved in the project
Whether sufficient quantity of neera will be available to the units
Number of tappers' families supplying neera
Average quantity of neera supplied daily
Observation is carried out regularly and reflected upon at the fortnightly meetings. Impacts are analyzed and corrective action is taken whenever difficulties or obstacles arise. Joint reflection workshops are arranged for the PWDS staff and the producing groups. Experience gained in setting up and monitoring the units is shared by the people from three candy units. They discuss lessons learned regarding successes and failures of the programme and take corrective action to overcome the obstacles and to plan for future activities. Each group is able to learn from the others.
6. Impacts observed and induced by PIM
The impacts observed include not only expectations and fears. Especially at socio-cultural level the actors noticed other changes with regard to attitudes and behaviour. Some of these were induced or reinforced by the application of PIM itself. Technical and economic impacts
1. Higher profits from candy production.
2. Efficiency of candy production is increased.
3. Tappers' income is doubled.
4. Alternative employment opportunities are created for women.
5. Women's workload is reduced.
6. School-age children have more time to devote to their studies.
7. Saving habit is promoted among tappers" families. Socio-cultural impacts
1. Development of cooperative attitude within community.
2. Involvement of groups in decision-making, analyzing impacts etc.
3. Women are now able to devote more time to their children and loved ones.
4. Tappers' houses and surroundings have become cleaner.
5. Women have time to participate in important social functions.
6. People have better knowledge of testing and processing candy.
7. Spirit of enterprise has developed among members.
Moreover, PWDS and the communities were able to identify various multiplier effects:
- -integral multiplier effects
- new members are joining the programme
- women also participate more actively in monitoring: they organize meetings once a month to reflect on what has been observed and take decisions relating to the programme
- vertical multiplier effects
- alternative employment opportunities are created for women
- promotion of the saving habit among the members
- horizontal multiplier effects
- impressed by the success of the candy unit at Kamplar, two more groups have started producing candy.
7. Conclusions
The monitoring system being practiced in the units has increased the autonomy of the groups in management. In the long run it is expected that the units will achieve full self-management. The application of group-based impact monitoring has been a learning process for the community in the sense that their ability to produce candy efficiently has improved. The monitoring system used by PWDS and the self-help groups can be managed easily by those involved. PIM makes it clear which impacts are important to the people and to the NGO, and helps to monitor them continuously. Although indicators may not meet scientific standards, they are helpful for the actors for the purpose of reflecting on successes and failures and thus steering the project. If carried out properly, PIM can promote autonomy and contribute to the success of projects by augmenting growth-promoting factors and overcoming growth-depressing factors.

Address: Palmyrah Workers' Development Society (PWDS) Crystal Street Martandam 629 165
Tamil Nadu India
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