While many youngsters looked down upon coconut plucking as a less-esteemed career, Selvin from Changanassery has opted for it with "career pride and pleasure" and keeping in tune with the changing times he is using modern facilities like mobile phone and website to get connected to customers.
Travelling in the car helps him save time as he can rush from one coconut garden to the next. Selvin says he climbs 40 to 45 trees a day earning not less than Rs 30,000 a month. His phone number and profile are available on a website launched in the name of 'Changathikoottam', a gathering of trained coconut pluckers.
A failed business man, Selvin said coconut plucking has helped him to rebuild his life.
"I have tried my luck in a number of enterprises but could not succeed. Finally, I started looking for a job which could give me a steady income. After some search, I found coconut plucking a gainful career as there is a huge demand for coconut harvesters in Kerala," Selvin said.
After his schooling, Selvin became a bus conductor and even bought two buses eventually. But the bus business failed soon and he was pushed into debt-trap. Father of three kids, he later joined a week long coconut climbing training programme conducted by the 'Krishi Vingnan Kendra' in Kumarakom near Kottayam.
He gets an average of 100 calls a day from various parts of the district. Apart from wages, he also charges petrol price for the assignments outside the district. "Though I mastered the nuances of tree climbing and nut plucking, I had to face stiff opposition from my family and traditional coconut pluckers in the initial days," he said.
"My family and community members complained that I humiliated them by entering in the profession while conventional nut pluckers blamed me for charging lower wages." Of late, he had also turned a trainer, having helped a dozen youth learn the job.