Thiruvananthapuram: One of the most sought after persons by most households in Kerala is the friendly neighbourhood coconut plucker.
But gone are those days when you can get them at your beck and call.
Though Coconut Development Board and Agriculture Department's Karshika Karma Sena have trained scores of coconut pluckers, not many are sticking to the trade, say experts.
This has prompted CDB and KKS to train more 'agricultural technicians' to meet the demand.
According to CDB chairman T. K. Jose his officials have been checking randomly on whether coconut pluckers have been meeting the demands of farmers.
It has been revealed that Thrissur, Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts have the maximum number of dropouts, hence currently a bond has been enforced.
"There is only a five percent drop-out now when it comes to the third year compared to the earlier 50-60 percent. This could be achieved due to the cooperation of the Coconut Production Societies and farmers' collectives. We train 20 persons per batch, meeting their expenses and accommodation which amounts to Rs 56,500. At the end of the training, we give them tools worth Rs 2100," said Jose to DC.
Currently KKS has got 52 agricultural technicians in their fold. Though all of them are trained in coconut plucking, terrace cultivation and other agricultural related work, only very few 'unique' coconut pluckers have remained in the traditional trade.
"We get innumerable calls from farmers and private households requesting for coconut pluckers. But more often than not there is a shortage. So, we have decided to provide free training to people who wish to take up coconut plucking and other agricultural related works as a trade," said K. G. Binulal, coordinator of KMS to DC.
It was KKS who first began providing training to coconut pluckers in 2008.
With just two agricultural officers and two assistants, they are doing yeomen service training scores of aspiring pluckers.
Farmers have to pay them a remuneration of Rs 25 per tree for more than 20 coconut trees and Rs 30 per tree if they have less than 20 trees.