Kerala: Women Scaling New Heights with Coconut Tree-Climbing Machine
Kozhikode, Dec 3 (Economic Times): Thirty-four-year-old Praseetha Dineshan from Kattipara panchayat in Kozhikode used to work as a postwoman delivering letters from 8 am to 5.30 pm. No longer.
After completing a training course of Coconut Development Board (CDB) for climbing coconut tree using a machine, she has now quit her temporary job and is happy to climb coconut trees to pluck coconuts.
"Yesterday I climbed 15 trees and today I did 20. More and more people are calling me to climb trees and I get Rs 15 per tree," she said.
She can complete her job by afternoon and can get paid even more. Praseetha is even thinking of buying a Scooty on loan as she often has to hire an auto-rickshaw to reach some of the places where she has to pluck coconuts. As yet another male bastion falls with more and more women shedding their inhibitions and coming forward to climb coconut trees, the climbing profession may soon become a family affair with the woman and her husband or brother taking up the job.
The tall coconut trees which once gave Kerala its name, and glory, had recently become its bane with a scarcity of climbers. Absence of climbers resulted in the neglect of coconut trees which even led to a decline in coconut productivity in the state. The physical strain involved in climbing had prevented women from climbing coconut trees.
But a climbing machine introduced by the Coconut Development Board (CDB) seems to have solved the problem. The board recently launched a "Friends of Coconut Tree" programme to train unemployed youth in the art of climbing coconut trees and caring for them. However, the programme has caught the attention of women in the state.
The first week of November saw the first batch of 20 women climbers aged between 20 and 35 complete a six-day training at the Peruvannamuzhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR) in Kozhikode. Quite a number of women are now prepared to take up the activity as the strain involved is less with the use of machine.