Women in Kerala Exploring New Avenues in Coconut Plucking

Women in Kerala Exploring New Avenues in Coconut PluckingIndian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode has recently initiated a step towards empowering women through training in coconut plucking. Now, coconut plucking will no longer be considered a male bastion. Their female counterpart will give them a knife-edge competition as first batch of ‘Friends of Coconut’ completed their six day training at the Peruvannamuzhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra of the IISR recently.

Institute recently conducted an ‘all women’ training programme on coconut climbing for a group of 20 women (20-35 years). The training was organised as part of the ‘Friends of Coconut Tree’ programme being implemented by the Coconut Development Board to train unemployed youth in the art of climbing coconut trees and caring for them. KVK, Peruvannamuzhi is the first to conduct a training programme exclusively for women as part of the Friends of Coconut Tree programme of the Board.

The programme covered introduction to coconut palm, climate, soil requirements and varieties, sessions on climbing machine-main parts, working and trial, nutrient management, recycling of palm waste, intercropping and mixed cropping, etc. Besides, practical lessons on climbing coconut trees, sessions were also held on harvesting, tender and mature nut identification, Identification of pests and disease of coconut and their management, crown cleaning aspects, seed nut procurement, safe handling of seed nuts and tender nuts, coconut nursery and its management etc.

Women in Kerala Exploring New Avenues in Coconut PluckingWomen in Kerala Exploring New Avenues in Coconut PluckingWomen trainees with master trainers

Physical exercise towards the beginning of each day’s training was another highlight of the programme. According to the trainees, coconut climbing is an easy task and they felt no physical exhaustion while using the machine. During the last session of the training, a ‘Coconut Olympics’ was also conducted in which the trainees were able to climb the palms within 48- 50 seconds, a feat equivalent to their male counterparts.

‘The training gave us a sense of confidence that we can do anything if we have the will. Moreover, we are now able to earn a good amount by spending three to four hours a day,’ says Aneela Mathew from Peruvannamuzhi, a practicing woman climber trained at KVK. ‘Inspired by our success, many women are approaching us for training in coconut climbing using machines,’ adds beaming Aneela. ‘By using the machine I can climb 25 to 30 trees a day and manage to earn around 400 rupees within three hours,’ says Reeja VG, another women trainee who has taken up this as a livelihood.

‘It’s an ironical fact that Kerala, the land of coconut, is suffering from shortage of coconut pluckers for the past few years. As a solution for this, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra of IISR has conducted a series of training programmes in coconut climbing using machines in collaboration with Coconut Development Board. Many women are now taking up it as a profession and contributing a good share to their family income,’ says Dr. M Anandaraj, Director, Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode.

‘KVK is now in the process of establishing a ‘Coconut Climbers’ Bank’ in which the people trained from KVK can register their names. Anyone who needs the services of a coconut climber can contact the bank and avail the services of registered coconut climbers in their own at a reasonable rate. Thus, this scheme will be beneficial to both the customer and climber,’ says Dr. T Arumuganathan, Programme coordinator, KVK Peruvannamuzhi.

(Source: NAIP Mass Media Sub-Project on Mass Media Mobilization, DKMA with inputs from IISR, Calicut)