Thursday, April 30, 2009
The farmer faces many hurdles- this takes the cake – every nut must conform
Delivering King Coconuts to shops today, instead of the club!
Amongst the many products I grow and market, my single largest revenue earner as noted before is from the sale of King Coconuts, and my largest individual customer was the Golf Club in Colombo, to which the land in Godagama has been supplying King Coconuts for over 10 years. We have had to make extra efforts to supply them with this twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, averaging 500 a week.
I missed my Monday delivery to them as the man who climbs the tree and cuts them did not turn up despite a search for him all over area on Monday, and was only able to track him on Tuesday. So I had 150 specially cut as early as possible that morning and I personally took it to the club that day, not a short drive away, for a special delivery.
I was told that the Chef had to be called to pass the sizes of the nuts and once he came he said he could only take two bunches as the others were smaller than the mandated sizes. I then learnt that a member of the club had hauled both the chef and the manager in charge of ordering, and given them a talking to, saying the club’s king coconuts were too small as compared with those that appear for sale on the roadside.
I had no option but to tell them that we have made every effort to bring fresh King Coconuts, direct from our property and these were about two hours from plucking, and that I was not willing to cut my king coconuts and select those that adhere to a dimension that is stipulated and then bring only them to the Club. They either take what I have or not take any, as they just cannot pick and chose, much like in a super market, as that is another purchase, where the source cannot be guaranteed, and they are only purchasing on size with no other guarantees. I promptly took all the king coconuts and sold them on the road side within minutes of leaving the club, breathing a sigh of relief that I will no longer be stressed out to ensure the plucker comes twice a week to satisfy this want.
For all the trouble of plucking, where the plucker gets Rs2 for each nut, the transport, labor and my effort I get Rs15 a nut from the Club. I get Rs20 for my home delivery ones, admittedly at a lower volume and I was not going to give the customers smaller sizes for more money reserving the larger ones for a lower unit price at the club.
Anyone who grows King Coconuts will know, that in a 100 trees, the sizes of the nuts vary substantially, and some bunches can be as small as 5 and others as large as 35. In addition, sometimes the smaller nuts are deceptive, having more water than the larger nuts, and then due to rainfall and seasonal variations there are different sizes of nuts on the same tree at different times of the year. So if they want to source it from one location, that is the variation they have to accept, as I cannot then dispose of the smaller nuts elsewhere. Additionally trees go into hibernation sometimes and while the club requires a standard level of supply, I have to limit my supply to others due to lower harvest.
I consoled myself with the thought that the person complaining about the nuts was a 25ml shot drinker who thinks King coconuts are made to exact standards, a typical attitude of a townie. Nevertheless I still lost a significant customer. An added risk of farming!!