The project, ‘Friends of Coconut Tree,’ envisaged by the Coconut Development Board, to find an answer for the severe shortage of trained hands for harvesting coconuts across the sate is receiving an overwhelming response from youths according to sources from the board.
More than 500 youths including women have already completed the training from different districts and have entered the filed in a month’s time after the project being launched on August 17, publicity officer of the Coconut Development Board Mini Mathew told The Hindu.
The board gives training for selected youths from different districts with the help of agencies and organisations such as Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and Krishi Bhavans after inviting applications from them. According to Ms. Mathew the response to the training was visibly greater from the northern districts of the state. “Probably because there are more growers and subsequently more demand for trained people,” she said.
The six days’ residential programme aims to train the participants in climbing the trees using, a simple, scientifically developed device, besides equipping them to take care of the coconut trees in different climatic conditions and take necessary steps to control attacks of pests and diseases to them.
The participants will be given free food, accommodation as well as a stipend of Rs. 150 for a day. A climbing machine that cost around Rs. 2500 will also be given free of coast to them at the end of the session. Those who complete the course will also be insured by the board for one year to meet the expenses of any possible accidents occurring to them. They will also be given a special uniform and a certificate by the board at the end of the programme.
Training is given in different batches of 20 people. Some districts including Kozhikode have already started training for the fourth batch. “In our third batch, we had to accommodate more than 25 people due to the increasing number of applicants,” said K. Mridula, Technical officer of the board in charge of the district. Women candidates have also come forward to participate in the training. According to Ms. Mathew, 10 of the 25 members in the second batch of training in Thiruvananthapuram were women candidates. KVK, which hosts the training in the district have already received as many as 15 applications from women. “We are planning to start a separate batch exclusively for women soon,” said Ms. Mridula, who added that majority of those who completed the board training, had already started earning an enviable amount of Rs 800 to Rs. 1000 a day. “As they grow experience this will undoubtedly increase,” said Ms. Mridula.
According to Ms. Mathew Standard VII has been fixed as a basic qualification for obtaining the training. “But most of our applicants are qualified well above the mark with some even having bachelor’s and masters degree,” said Ms. Mathew.
The project, which in its initial phase aimed to create around 5,000 trained people by March next year will have to be extended later to create at least 25, 000 trained hands to meet the requirement of the state, said Ms. Mathew. According to her the project will cost the board a sum of more than Rs.3 crore.