Gossips, giggles and chit-chat echo in Malnad plantations

Areca harvest begins despite all odds

Workers engaged in peeling the areca nuts at one of the plantations at Harandur in Koppa taluk. dh photo

Areca harvest and peeling is almost like a festival in the region. The peeling is done only in the evening. After a day long work, workers look forward to go for areca peeling because it is the time when they actually get to gossip and schmooze over all the things happening in the village.

With winter in Malnad, it really gets cold in the evening and these workers come with warm clothes and shawls for duty and with hands busy peeling arecas they literally shoot the breeze.

The workers are often seen singing folk songs to sandalwood numbers till about 2 am taking small coffee breaks to munch some hot fried.

 In some homes, the caring and considerate plantation owners even make arrangements for television sets at the workplace so that the workers do not miss on their favourite serials.

In Koppa taluk the harvest is going on in full swing despite labour problem and havoc caused by untimely rains. The daily dose of rainfall for an hour or even more has disturbed the areca processing work in a big way.

This year the plantations are facing acute shortage of skilled workers for peeling and climbing the trees.

However, in some places like Hariharapura, Jayapura, Niluvagilu and nearby areas, the rich planters have taken to mechanisation for peeling areca.

Planters with small land holding have been doing the peeling work themselves with help from their family members.

 The drastic change in weather conditions has directly affected areca yield. In many places the areca bunches are turning ripe on the tree itself as there are no labourers available to climb the tree and cut bunches.

However, with all the problems, the show still goes on

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