25 young men form a collective to harvest coconuts

Low-hanging fruit are for lesser mortals. Only tall challenges inspire these young men from Valamangalam, near Mongam, in the district.

They have formed a collective called Friends of Coconut Tree (FOCT). Just a call away to harvest coconuts from tall palms, they have indeed become friends of coconut farmers.

None of them belongs to a family which has traditionally taken up climbing of coconut trees as an occupation. Most of them are students, and they have taken it up as a serious vocation.

The 25 men got training in coconut climbing from Maitri at Muthalamada in Palakkad. Enthused by the week-long training and the free climbing machines they got from the non-governmental organisation, the team decided to form the collective.

They chose Mohammed Anees, schoolteacher, and Habeeb Rahman, automobile mechanic, as their coordinators.

Mr. Anees’s phone (9961 082387) have been ringing since then, callers eager to get their service for plucking coconuts.

Today, FOCT members are busy helping coconut farmers and earning a living. They are becoming popular in neighbouring districts as well.

They choose coconut plantations with at least 70 trees, charging Rs. 20 for climbing one.

Much in demand

Mr. Anees says that their days are becoming busier with more and more people calling them for plucking coconuts.

The coordinators assign the members, who carry identity cards, to different places when the calls pour in.

They begin their work early in the morning and finish by mid-day. The group revels in the beautiful memories they shared during their week-long training at Muthalamada.

They say the machines they got from Maitri are superior in quality to those on the market. In five minutes, they pluck nuts from a coconut tree using the machines.

They are part of the workforce formed by Krishi Bhavan, Pulpetta. They are being encouraged not only by their friends and family but also by other professionals.

Hafeef and Jamshar are studying Automobile Engineering. Suhail is doing his B.Sc. Others have passed the 10th standard. All have found dignity in their new-found job.

The FOCT members are active in humanitarian work in and around Mongam. They are planning to celebrate World Environment Day by planting hundreds of trees. They are willing to offer training to the youth in coconut climbing. They have requested the civic body to take the initiative to spread the message.

More In: Kerala | National