Neera, a pre-fermentation version of palm tree juice, went out of stock on Thursday, within 24 hours of its ceremonial launch at Bihar Diwas function.
Soon after its launch on Wednesday, Neera turned out to be the most sought after drink with the people thronging the industry department and Jeevika stalls selling the beverage at Gandhi Maidan, the venue for main Bihar Diwas function here.
Jeevika coordinator Mahua Roy Choudhary said: “Neera is out of stock in the two stalls. The entire stock was sold out by 1pm on Thursday. Now we are waiting for the product to arrive here from Nalanda and Gaya districts”.
“Jeevika and industry department stalls did a brisk business by selling more than 640 liters of Neera,” she said.
She, however, said the product was officially launched on Thursday by rural development minister Shravan Kumar. Chilled Neera was being sold for Rs 10 in a150 ml cup, Roy Choudhary added.
Following imposition of prohibition on April 5, 2016, the state government formulated the concept of selling pre-fermentation version of palm tree juice in consultations with self-help groups (SHGs).
After prohibition, there was a strong perception that those addicted to liquor would move towards toddy (post-fermentation version of palm tree juice). It was also believed that stringent provisions of the prohibition law, which did not permit sale of toddy in public places, would hit thousands of Passi families, who made their livelihood by selling post-fermentation version of palm tree juice.
Jeevika and its self help groups spread across the state took up the task to commercially produce Neera drink during its fruit bearing season.
“We have identified 12 districts where palm and date trees are available in abundance to extract the juice,” said Roy Choudhary.
“We have also made a database of 20,000 Passi families, who more or less depend on palm juice extraction,” she said.
“We also provided training to SHGs to make Neera from palm tree juice by inviting experts from Andhra Pardesh and Telangana,” she added.
“We also taught Passi community members when to extract the juice and how to prevent its fermentation for long,” she said.
She said at present Neera was being produced mainly in Gaya, Muzaffarpur and Nalanda districts.
The Neera stalls at Gandhi Maidan were also selling palm peda (200 gm pack at Rs 80) and palm jaggery (200gm pack at Rs70).
Another Jeevika volunteer Roshan Kumar said Neera was hit among teenagers as hundreds of boys and girls queued up at the stalls to buy the drink in the last two days.
Another palm product, which a Vaishali-based company calls palm fruit (ice apple), was also on sale. The natural product contains 26% carbohydrate and 16% protein. It also contains vitamin B1, calcium 10% and iron 2%.
Company representative Alok Ranjan said the product had been launched on a trial basis. An 800gm can was available for Rs 170, he added.