Eco-consciousness on your plate

Some farmers do away with dried areca fronds. Some others use it as natural manure. And then, there are women who are turning self-reliant thanks to these areca fronds. They make biodegradable plates out of these fronds and market them. There is a huge demand too for such plates.

Take Jalakshi from Oorubailu of Chembu village in Madikeri taluk, for example.
She became a member of a Stree Shakti Self-Help group. The members of the group got together and bought a machine to make these plates. Jalakshi started making these plates in the comfort of her own home. While making plates for the  group, she earned 30 paise for every plate. It then occurred to her to buy a machine on her own. Which she did by investing Rs 16,000.

She also got Rs 11,000 as financial help from the agriculture department. Each time she made plates out of these fronds, she would invariably be left with a portion of the leaf enough to make at least one more smaller plate. Jalakshi bought another machine to make use of this.

She buys the fronds from areca growers at 50 paise for every leaf. The fronds are immersed in water one night before the plates are made.

She makes as many as 200 plates on a daily basis. She sells the plates at Rs 1.25 each. Jalakshi earns at least Rs 7,500 every month from these plates. She has not experienced any hassles so far, in terms of lack of demand in the market. In fact, she has not been able to meet the demand. She has set an example for the other women from her village to follow suit.

Sahana Kantabailu

CPCRI home to 370 coconut varieties

The Central Plantation Crops Research Institute on National Highway 17, at Kasargod on the Karnataka-Kerala border is the world’s biggest coconut processing centre.

 It was during the British rule that an institute to process coconut was started. This was in 1916, under the erstwhile Madras Presidency. It was in 1970 that the Institute got its present name.

Initially, CPCRI conducted research on coconut, areca, cocoa, pepper, turmeric, ginger etc. But, now, the research is limited to coconut, areca and cocoa. Out of CPCRI’s three regional centres, one is located at Vitla in the state. The Institute is home to as many as 370 coconut varieties including 132 foreign varieties.

Rajesh Rai Chatla