Guest Author: Aby Thomas
The title “Pepper harvest and Paper bags” may sound unusual, but it’s related to the newspaper bags initiatives by Cardamom County and the forestry department to create alternatives means of income for the tribal ladies leading to community development. The Vanasree Auditorium ladies have multiple responsibilities based on their working directly for the forestry department. But the Mannakkudy ladies have had the newspaper bags as their primary income. Until recently….The paper bags unit was active until the end of December, but now the tribal ladies are busy with their pepper harvesting. The pepper harvesting season in the locality begins with the month of January and ends during March. During these periods, the ladies help men in harvesting pepper.
The men climb tall single piece bamboo ladders to reach the tops of the trees that support the pepper plants. The ladies pluck the pepper berry stems to the highest point they can reach. After a plant is fully harvested the ladies also prune back the excess branches from the plant.
When their cloth bags are full they pour out the pepper laden stems onto a waiting mat on the forest floor. A simple side stepping motion of the feet pulls the berries off the stem, making for easy separation before the next step in processing.
When the harvest is compete the ladies will continue with their work at the newspaper bag unit, ensuring the survival of this productive initiative.
About the author: I started work recently, responsible for managing human resources at Cardamom County. It has been my dream to become a manager in the hotel field since I was young, and I am beginning to fulfill that dream. I completed my Masters in Hospitality Management(MMH) from Marian College Kuttikkanam, a near by hill station.My family home is at a place called Vandiperiyar, 12 km away from where I work, and I can recommend anyone to visit this part of Kerala.