Harvesting mangoes and coconuts

May and June is the time for harvesting mangoes. But where are the men who have the skills to do just this? Or climb up coconut trees and pluck the fruits?

Many Mylaporeans have fruits bearing trees or coconut trees in their backyards. Some who live in independent houses have retained a bit of the greenery that was part of the neighbourhood in the 60s and 70s. But when the trees bear fruit, these householders find it difficult to get people who can gather them.

“There was a time when these men from the suburbs would cycle down the roads, looking out for trees that had to be harvested. They would knock on our doors and do the job. Today, even those people are not around,” says Shakuntala of Alarmelmangapuram, a colony behind the busy Sai Baba Temple. There is a 48-year-old mango tree in her garden.

Some Mylaporeans are left with the option of calling a mango seller from the market or send word for help through their housemaids. Shakuntala has used all options. She has to for at this time of the year the mango yield is good.

She says “The yield is approximately thousand fruits per season and since our harvester is a mango seller, he buys the fruits for Rs.600.”

However it’s a different scenario at S. Venkatesan’s house on the same road.

This 50-year -old mango tree yields over 500 fruits and he pays one rupee per piece to his harvester who hails from Perungudi, off the OMR. Venkatesan says he distributes the fruits to his relatives and friends.

“We must make some effort to care for the tree, ” he says. “A bit of spraying pesticides on the affected parts of the tree once a year is enough.”

J. Natarajan’s house in Mylapore has four coconut trees in the backyard. Each of these yield fruit every six months and the count ranges from 500 to 600 pieces, which are stored in sacks. He says it is difficult to get people to pick coconuts. “Each time I have to call a different person. I pay as much as Rs.2000 for the job. Sometimes, when we delay the coconuts fall by themselves to the ground.”

Another Mylaporean who has of two coconut trees in his backyard says the trees yield around 100 pieces every six months, out of which only sixty can be used for cooking. He too says it is hard to get a person to climb coconut trees.

There are many people who tend to fruit bearing trees in their backyards despite the pains of having them. Some in R. A. Puram have made arrangements to let the domestic water outlet run into the base of the trees.

Peels of vegetable and fruits are deposited around the tree to create a compost and manure. They say they enjoy this hobby.

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