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Are Goan Padekars slowly becoming extinct?

By Marlon Moraes

While the ministers are busy fighting over whether a coconut tree is classified as a tree or not and restaurants keep boasting about the delicious ‘Sheet-Kodi’ they serve, the coconut tree is in danger of becoming history.

The Problem

A few decades ago we had to travel miles in order to find a doctor, thankfully that’s not the case today. More worryingly, the total opposite scenario can be said about’ Padekars’ (coconut tree plucker). With the risk involved in the job, the youth are looking out for better, or may I say safer jobs to take up as careers.

Coconut farmers are also  reluctant to plant more coconut trees as they feel with the decline in Goan coconut tree climbers, the prices they will have to pay to pluck coconuts from their trees will make the process uneconomical. Currently the priced charged by Padekars can be anywhere between 800-1000 rupees on average.

Possible Solutions

A great initiative was taken by a farmer recently who invented a coconut tree climbing machine. This machine reduces the danger of falling down from the tree. Although the machine works perfectly on straight trees, climbing on a crooked one might be a bit of a challenge. The machine can be purchased online and is easily available.

The Device:

  • The palm climber consists of two metal loops that are meant for holding the legs.
  • It has a handle at the top for hand grip and a pedal base at the bottom.
  • The loops are put around the tree trunk on the opposite sides.
  • The loop on either side is lifted up by the simultaneous movement of the hand and feet.
  • By such alternate motion, one can easily climb a coconut tree in minutes.

Online Padekars

Due to the scarcity of Padekars, Suprajit Raikar, a resident of Benaulim, has taken a leap of faith by moving from a lucrative profession in the sphere of IT and starting his own business called Padekar.com. Padekar.com offers its visitors the chance to hire the services of a coconut plucker at the click of a button. It also recruits new Padekars by offering skilled training from experienced veterans in the profession, hi-tech equipment and life insurance cover.

According to Suprajit, the shortage of padekars is affecting not just landlords with vast coconut groves but is attacking the entire cycle.

 “Due to the shortage of coconut pluckers, there is a lower yield of coconut. This is affecting the livelihoods of ‘giranns’, coconut oil extraction mills. Since there are fewer coconuts available, the rate of the most-used commodity has also increased. Padekars are very few and there is a lot of demand for them. Now there are people from other states coming to Goa and taking advantage of this situation and climbing coconut trees,” stated Suprajit. 

So here’s hoping, when you hear the name Goa in the future, the thought of swaying coconut trees on a nice windy afternoon still comes to your mind!

 

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