Better late than never. The Excise department seems to be thinking on those lines, and is now considering the standardization of the sale of local brew (sur) extracted from the coconut tree.
While feni, distilled from cashew apples, has made its mark with some traders marketing it systematically, the coconut brew has been left behind.
Menino D'Souza, excise commissioner, told TOI on Sunday that there has is a need for the standardization of sale and purchase of coconut liquor. "The time has come to put things in order," he said.
He said that some members of the toddy tappers association have also made the same suggestion.
"In the absence of standardization, there is no way to find out if what is sold is real or adulterated," D'Souza said.
He said that the department would talk to people involved in the business before starting any detailing on the subject. "The idea is still in the nascent stage."
The once-ubiquitous business of toddy-tapping is in shambles today, with a number of people slowly going out of the business.
The number of toddy tappers (a person who is trained to climb a coconut tree and extract toddy) has also dwindled, from from 22,000 at the time of the liberation of Goa in 1961, to 2,000 today.
Gaspar Afonso, president of the all-Goa toddy tappers association, confirmed that there are very few toddy tappers today. It is hard to get a render (toddy tapper) as the present-day generation is not keen to enter this business.
"They would rather go to the middle-east and do manual jobs there than toil here, as they are ashamed to work as renders," Afonso grumbled to TOI.
He also acknowledged that the production of coconut alcohol has drastically come down-it is just 2,000 -3,000 literes a season, as against 20,000 litres a few years ago. Afonso stressed on the need for some semblance of standardization,to curb adulteration. Pure alcohol fetches a high price. "A matka (15 liters) will get a trader anything between 3,000- 3,500."
Sources say that traders indulge in larg-scale adulteration. They use water and even sometime oil as adulterants. Insiders say that the problem has been actuated for want of renders. A render charges 3,000 for climbing 20 coconut trees. [TOI]