Women replace men on top of coconut trees

Women replace men on top of coconut trees

Changing times?

At a time when coconut growers are facing acute shortage of workers to pluck coconuts, two women – Lakshmi and Akshatha – learnt the art and entered into the traditionally male-dominant occupation.

Hailing from Kaikamba in Puttur, the duo have been eking out livelihood by climbing coconut trees.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Lakshmi said, “I learnt to climb coconut trees using the machine at a one-week training programme at the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) in Kasargod three years ago. After the training, I was given a machine to climb. Now, I climb the trees with ease and pluck the coconuts. Along with training in climbing the trees, we were taught the scientific way of coconut management and given hands-on training on different cultural practices in coconut pest and disease management during the training.”

A resident of Mellugudde near Kaikamba in Puttur taluk, she climbs coconut trees in her village and also in her neighbourhood, including Subramanya.

Speaking further about her work, she said, “I climb around 40 coconut trees a day and my job is generally completed by evening. The earning is good: I charge Rs 25 a tree. Along with coconut trees, I climb areca trees and spray pesticides. With balance, I can climb coconut and areca trees with ease.”

Lakshmi added, “The coconut tree-climbing occupation has given me a source of income for my livelihood. I am the bread-winner of my family, I have my father and brother to take care of.”

Akshatha, another coconut tree-climber, said that she too learnt the art of climbing coconut trees at a training programme at CPCRI. “My family supported me to venture into this risky job. I climb 35 trees a day,” she said.

“My work is worship and dignity of labour is important to me. The villagers have been very supportive and have not made any discrimination while employing us,” she added.

At a few places, the shortage of labour to climb coconut trees had resulted in leaving ripe coconuts on the trees unused. “We are proud to say that we earn our livelihood by harvesting coconuts with the help of the machines,” said Akshatha.

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