Usually in high spirits, Kerala’s love for toddy is wearing off

Once a favourite of the locals in Kerala, toddy consumption has been seeing a steady decline over the years, thanks to many factors | All photos by Special Arrangement

"Business is not as good as it was before, but we are slowly recovering,” says Babu, an award-winning toddy tapper from Ottappalam in Palakkad district of Kerala, who along with other workers reopened shops after a three-month hiatus.

Back in March, about 100 shops were ordered to be shut in the district for allegedly selling adulterated toddy (mixed with spirit) in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Around three months later when the government relaxed restrictions, Babu, who has won the best toddy tapper award three times, and other toddy workers met the district collector and convinced the authorities to let them reopen the shops which they would run themselves.

But, as he says, the business is only slowly reviving. Babu says for a diligent worker, toddy tapping is a lucrative affair. A tapper usually gets 10–15 litres of toddy a day, but those who are ready to do hard work can tap 100 litres a day, he says.

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