Even though Cuddalore district abounds in coconut trees, the price of coconuts is high. The reason trotted out for such market behaviour is the lack of manpower to pluck coconuts or the high wages the workers demand.
It has created a situation in which even the ripe coconuts are left either to rot on the trees or fall. It has become consternation for the coconut growers to find the workforce on time to harvest, not to speak of the plight of the households having a few coconut trees in their garden.
To overcome the problem, the M.S. Swaminatan Research Foundation (MSSRF) has launched the “Friends of Coconut Tree” programme for farmers and the unemployed youth.
R. Elangovan, Project Officer of the MSSRF, told The Hindu that the six-day training programme organised under the aegis of the MSSRF Village Resource Centre at Parangipettai was intended to help the farmers and unemployed youth learn to climb trees to pluck the coconut.
To start with, 20 persons, including four women hailing from Killai, Nochikadu, Manikkollai and Parangipettai, joined the programme conducted recently. It was conducted in coordination with the Coconut Development Board that provided the device for climbing the trees free of cost.In-house training
It was a sort of an in-house training as the trainees would stay at the Parangipettai centre throughout the training programme. Besides mastering the tree climbing techniques, they were also taught yoga and pranayam.
Mr Elangovan said the Coconut Development Board had made it mandatory that 30 per cent of the trainees ought to be women.
It was a surprise that four women had come forward to enroll their names in the programme.
One of the trainees, Kausalya, 24, told this correspondent that initially she had hesitation in joining the programme as she lacked courage in climbing tall trees.
But, the device provided by the centre made the job simple and easy. She gained confidence gradually.
However, the centre has prescribed a dress code for women — they should either wear salwar kameez or a pair of trousers to avoid risks.
Mr Elangovan said that after completion of the training programme, Parangipettai Town Panchayat Chairman Mohammad Yunus gave away certificates and the climbing device (free of cost) to the participants.