Herald: Book your next Padekar online
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Book your next Padekar online

29 Mar 2015 11:14pm IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

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29 Mar 2015 11:14pm IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

Leave a comment

It is painful to see coconuts wither and fall from the once glorious coconut trees for the lack of padekars (coconut pluckers). Padekar.com has come to the rescue as the team will send in a padekar to pluck coconuts as and when required. Suprajit Raikar who is heading the socio-economic project explains the state of the padekars and the mission to encourage them to continue with the traditional occupation

Currently in its second phase of production, Padekar.com is a team effort from Suprajit Raikar of Benaulim and his friends from the Desi Motorcycle Diaries (DMD) Youth Adventure Club. The website offers the services of a coconut plucker on any required day.

A young software engineer, Suprajit was struck by the idea of bringing coconut pluckers to the internet for easy access when he attended a talk. “The talk spoke about ‘Benaulecho Nall’ which come from my village and are known throughout Goa for their huge size. Unfortunately, we hardly see much of the coconut because there is a shortage of padekars. In Benaulim itself, there will be around 2-3 padekars. I thought of starting a website where customers could hire padekars. Currently, we are working in Salcete and planning to expand it to North Goa later,” says Suprajit, who has received tremendous response along the coast.

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 less coconuts available, the rates 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,” adds Suprajit.  Machines cannot be used for every coconut tree in Goa because the trees in Goa lean, while the machine requires straight trees.

How does the website work? Once a customer fills in the form for the date, place and how many trees need plucking, they have to pay the fees. The next step is a unique identity number that will be given to the customer and a chief coordinator who in turn will contact a registered padekar with the details. The coconuts will be plucked on the marked date. “Our team consists of two chief coordinators, coordinators and finally the padekars. We have identified around 12 -15 padekars in Salcete. We approached the Directorate of Agriculture who informed us that most Goan padekars live in Canacona. We have done our ground work and our database is ready,” says Suprajit.

The padekars registered with Padekar.com will receive many benefits; one factor why youngsters can get attracted to the initiative. They will provide Rs 5 lakhs to the family of the padekars who die an accidental death by falling from a tree. Padekars will receive free treatment for illness, bruises or cuts from their tools and they will receive the same wages as the circular of the agriculture department. “In addition to that, they can work with modern technology as we are bringing in machines from Coimbatore. My long term dream is to open a Padekar training facility where padekars above 60 years of age who feel unfit to climb trees can teach youngsters the trade,” says Suprajit.

In the future, Padekar.com is also planning to host a competition, ‘Fastest padekar konn?’ which will be open to 18 to 25 year olds.

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