Kerala

When the day’s labour goes down the drain

Sanu climbing a palm tree at Nirappelkada near Doreland in Idukki district to tap toddy.

Sanu climbing a palm tree at Nirappelkada near Doreland in Idukki district to tap toddy.  

Toddy tappers have to pour away the yield as shops are shut due to lockdown

Be it COVID-19, Nipah, or flood, a toddy tapper’s life is one sans rest.

He has to cut the unopened inflorescence everyday, whether it is coconut or a palm tree and collect toddy twice a day.

However, the inflorescence has to be prepared for nearly a month for it to provide the yield. If the toddy is not tapped for a single day, the whole effort is lost and the bunch has to be abandoned.

Sanu K.S., a toddy tapper at Doreland, says though he is not selling toddy to the toddy shop now he has to tap toddy daily.

“I have been advised by the Excise Department to pour away the yield as toddy shops have been closed in the wake of the lockdown enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Sanu used to sell nearly seven litres of palm toddy to a shop at Mattukatta at ₹43 a litre. “I am now without any income though I have to do my daily work,” he says.

“The yield may sometimes go up to 15 litres a day during the bumper season and it is generally lean days during the summer. Once a palm or coconut tree is prepared, it provides toddy for nearly seven months,” Sanu says.

He taps four palms a day in the morning and evening. “My work starts at 7.30 a.m. and I sell the toddy at 9.30 a.m. The toddy tapped in the evening is sold the next day and is known as mooppan kallu, as it is more fermented,” he says.

Sanu started tapping toddy at Doreland three months ago after working under a trade union toddy tapper at Vellilamkandam for three years.

“There have been occasions when I had to discard the inflorescence as it did not yield toddy even though I prepared it for 30 days. However, another bunch in the same tree may yield toddy,” he says.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 29, 2020 7:30:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/when-the-days-labour-goes-down-the-drain/article31195078.ece

Next Story