The rain was back with all its fierceness. The district authorities had declared holidays for schools and colleges here in Idukki and most other districts in the state due to this heavy rain. But we could not by any means reschedule our procurement.
The rain was back with all its fierceness. The district authorities had declared holidays for schools and colleges here in Idukki and most other districts in the state due to this heavy rain. But we could not reschedule our procurement because IOFPCL (Indian Organic Farmer Producers Company Limited) had also arranged a small meeting with our farmers today. It is the IOFPCL who procure the cocoa for us.
The meeting was short. A few local politicians, the HDS (High range Development Society) staff, and about a dozen farmers were present. It was just to have a little briefing on how and why this initiative had to be taken seriously even in such an off season for farmers. For many of these farmers, this cocoa trade is the only mean to pay off the dues they owe in the shops nearby in these months. It all got over quick and we started off the procurement a bit late at about 11 today.
We could not expect much quantities of cocoa today, as the rain was pouring down throughout for the last couple of days and even today morning wasn’t any different. But we anyway had drove up our pickup truck all the way up to here, and however small the quantities each farmer had, we went till their homes and collected what they had.
But it wasn’t all that bad. A couple of new farmers more started giving us their cocoas today. And since many farmers hadn’t harvested their cocoas last week, they gave us a combined harvest of two weeks today. And in the same way, many who contributed last week decided not to harvest this week.
But anyways, the four of us in the truck and Ebin – the HDS staff who guides us in his bike before us (these hillside roads are still only a puzzle even to google maps) travel around from one farm to the next, one hill to the next, collecting all the cocoa beans these farmers could harvest. It was raining throughout the day and it made even more hectic to load the cocoas on to the truck.
The rain in these high ranges in not like any other. It will only be a little drizzling, but it won’t ever stop. And the wind won’t be that strong always, but the spell of this cold breeze could freeze anyone. It is in addition to this the tiny little drops that pours down non-stop, which with the wind makes one feel like a hundred needles shot at once onto our bodies.
Embreyil Binu, who gave us his cocoa for the first time this week is one of the first planters of cocoa in this region. It was in 1972 he first came to the high range. He recalls all this region being forests, with elephants and other wild animals freely roaming all these lands. He and his friends walked all the way from Adimali up to these hilltops. Now when we drive down to the same road, except for the blinding fog where the only things visible are a few reflectors and the headlights coming opposite us, there’s nothing else challenging us.
Finally, we reach back to the drying unit in Ramapuram by 8pm. This time, with 340 kgs of fresh beans.