It wasn’t the usual misty valleys that welcomed us today. Rain was at a halt for a few days now. The sky was clear, and it had the most blueish color one could ever see. Today, the sun was shining bright above, and not a single cloud to cover for us.
Just like the weeks before, we started our trip at 6 from Aluva and reached the HDS by 9. We loaded up our procurement crates into the pickup truck and started out the collection within half an hour.
At the first house we went to, it was the farmer’s son who came down to the road with this little bucket he had cultivated the cocoa beans into this morning. He has just finished his 12th grade last year and is preparing to come down to Kochin for his college. The cocoa he bought for us was less than 7 kgs. Ebin – our point-man at HDS had given us a little warning that the collection’s going to be a little less today, but only going further to more farms made us realize the yield was too low this week.
Even Mr. Mathew who used to give us at least more than 70 kilos every week, had only about 20 kilos of wet beans cultivated today. A drop in the yield at this time of the year was expected only, but this time the heavy rain acted against them. One of the farmer Pareed explains it to us, for the best yield, the cocoa need a little rain at first and then a few weeks clear of the rain for flowering. But this time, the monsoon started a few weeks early and the non-stop heavy rain only inversely affected the fruits.
But we could not let go of this venture that easily. No matter how low the quantity at each collection points was, we still drove around all these hills and reached every farmer who had at least a small quantity of fresh beans. Driving up to these hills and at each hairpin, it felt our pickup truck is almost racing to the infinity of the clear blue sky covering all these mountains. I think lying on top of one of these hilltops just gazing upon this vast majestic sky is one of the best medicines to clear our heads.
One man sadly demised yesterday in one of these areas we went. The funeral was today at the Murikkassery church. The man was only at his 60s. He was just watching TV the previous night and suddenly, fell back and everything was over. It was a cardiac arrest. All of the nearby people in that area were there for the funeral. That is the thing about people here in these village areas. Everyone knows everyone. Any function at any of these houses is a function for the entire area. And any death here is equally sad for everyone as one in their own families. Afternoon, most houses we went to had no one there because they all went for this funeral. But still, they had kept their cocoas cultivated and ready in front of their houses for us to come and collect.
And even at Upputhodu town where few of the farmers bring their cocoas together for us to collect, the quantity was much less than what we had expected. The weather had affected all their farms, but they promise it is all going to be better in a couple of weeks’ time.
We finished the day quickly and drove back to Ramapuram drying unit with all we got and reached there by 8. The total of quality beans we procured today was only about 200 kilos, only half of what we had got last week. But it is only going to be this way just only this once. The heavy monsoon rains are almost over now. Just as these farmers expects to and promised us today, it’s all going to be back in track within the coming weeks.