VITTLA : Somu Neelappa Harijan works as an agricultural labourer in an arecanut plantation in Vittla, about 50 kilometres from Mangaluru. Harijan, a 22-year-old school dropout from Chiknellur village in Shiggaon taluk of Haveri district, earns Rs 350 every day.
The young man, who has been struggling to take care of his needs and those of his parents back home, has now pinned his hopes on a crash course in arecanut tree climbing to improve his financial situation. On Wednesday, he stepped into the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI)’s regional station in Vittla, looking forward to the five-day training module.
The course in arecanut tree climbing, which began on Wednesday, aims to tackle the acute shortage of skilled labourers, due to which farmers are not able to spray copper sulphate on the crop at the right time to protect it from fruit rot diseases.
During the course, candidates are being made familiar with the modern facelift given to the traditional method of tree-climbing, complete with safety gears. Along with the rope used to climb the tree, they get a fall arrester, a body belt and a helmet, which are commonly used by rock climbers. Besides harvesting of fruits, trainees are also told about the proper mixture of copper sulphate, and how to spray it.
Arecanut tree climbers earn over Rs 35,000 for a 30-day job, and the new opportunity is giving hopes of better days for many farm labourers like Harijan and jobless youths, even in the neighbouring regions.