Coconut cultivation in the islands is an important sector that is going through multiple challenges. Of these, lack of skilled manpower for harvesting, crown cleaning and other farm operations has been one of the key factors affecting the sector. Use of suitable technologies could help in addressing the challenges of present day agriculture and coconut climbing devices are one such simple yet effective means for reducing the drudgery involved in the climbing of palms. To extend the benefits of these farmers-friendly devices, ICAR-CIARI has been actively involved for many years in popularization of this technology among the Nicobari tribal farmers, for whom coconut is a mainstay crop. Popularity of the device is evident by christening of the device as chaklak by the tribal farmers. As a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, Dr. Ajit Arun Waman, Scientist-SS, ICAR-CIARI coordinated demonstration and distribution programme at Harminder Bay, Little Andaman under Scheduled Tribe Component on May 9, 2023.
During the distribution programme, the elected representatives of Tribal Council, Harminder Bay selected 100 beneficiaries, to whom climbing devices were provided for use in their day to day activity. Also, 40 existing users, to whom devices were distributed by ICAR-CIARI during past years, were provided with spare ropes and fixtures as maintenance replacement so as to ensure their safety. Both male and female participants showed keen interest in the programme as with proper training, the devices could be used by both alike. The mass demonstration of this device was carried out by involving 14 tribal farmers and attended by 180 farmers from the village. Mr. Andrew Moses, First Headman and Mr. Festus N., Secretary, Tribal Council, Herminder Bay termed the event as Chaklak festival seeing the enthusiasm of the participants. Further, a demonstration of use of Dweep HanGreens, a hanging structure developed by ICAR-CIARI for cultivation of herbs was also made to 25 farmers, following which 25 units were distributed to the participants for setting up the units in their households.
The programme was co-coordinated by Dr. Pooja Bohra, Scientist-SS, ICAR-CIARI under the supervision of Dr. P.K. Singh, Head (I/c), Division of Horticulture and Crop Improvement, ICAR-CIARI and guidance of Dr. E.B. Chakurkar, Director, ICAR-CIARI.