Coconut and palm growers spearheaded an agitation in Tamil Nadu demanding the State Government to lift a ban on production and sale of ”Toddy”, a traditional drink of the state. ”Toddy”, a local drink extracted from either a coconut tree or a Palm tree flower has been banned in the state since 1987 for being an alcoholic drink. The farmers want the government to exempt toddy from the list of alcohol products banned in the State.
The farmers have now started tapping toddy and distributing it free of cost amongst the people. They claim that Toddy, one of the food items in old times in Tamil Nadu, is quite nutritious and healthy. “For the past 21 years toddy tapping is banned in Tamil Nadu and despite various request made by us to the government to allow tapping toddy, the government refused. But in Kerala and Karnataka tapping toddy and selling it is allowed. But we are not allowed to tap toddy. So now we have decided to tap defying the ban,” said Snethil Kumar, a coconut farmer.
They also claim that allowing Toddy tapping would also benefit hundreds of poor farmers since the state has some 45 million coconut trees. Also the farmers lament that since the sale of coconut products has come down, Toddy tapping would aid them in enhancing their earnings. Toddy is prepared by tying a clay pot over a blossoming coconut flower. A small hole is also made in front of the flower so that the white milk like juice from the flower is collected inside the pot. The mouth of the pot is then covered with a cloth and left for some time. Fermentation starts in the pot and in a day or two, the drink is ready to be consumed. The farmers then sell this Toddy.