The land of Kerala is believed to be a Gift of the Arabian Sea. Many cash crops like coconut, tea, rubber, coffee, pepper, cardamom, cashew, arecanut, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves etc give agriculture of Kerala a diverse nature.
Coconut Trees in Kerala
Coconut trees are essential to the traditional lifestyle and livelihood of the people of Kerala. As we travel along Kerala, by road, rail or air, we can see everywhere the coconut tree with its leaves swinging in gentle breeze. It is also known as KERA TREE and thus the land of Kera Tree is called Kerala. It is the most grown tree in Kerala. It is found abundantly in the coastal to central regions. The tree requires abundant rainfall and tolerates the high salinity of sea shores.
It is a tree grows to a height of about 25m without any branches but with several crown like spread leaves on the top. It is the only tree grown without any branches but as an exceptional case, in Kottaym, a coconut has grown with more branches. The trunk has rings which show the growth of the tree in each year.
It is known as Kalpaka Vriksha which means celestial tree which grants all wishes. Every part of a coconut tree is useful and in that sense this name most suits to this tree. The fruit of coconut tree is called coconut. The juice of the tender coconut is drunk fresh, the soft flesh of the tender coconut is eaten raw. There are different advantages for this natural healthy drink. It is suggested for people with dysentery, vomiting etc as a means to prevent dehydration. It is also cool, energetic and refreshing
The mature flesh is grated and added to curries or added as garnishing in either fresh or fried form. It is used extensively in delicious Kerala Cuisine. Malayalee people prepare most of their dishes using this nutritious fruit.
It has thick green outer cover and inside this is coconut fiber. This fiber is used for making coir products like mats, carpets, bed, rope etc. Then a nut shell like hard inner cover. Using the hard middle cover we can make handicrafts like lamps, flower vase, show pieces etc. Itís very enjoyable to see such products which adorn the drawing rooms of many houses. These two parts are used as firewood in most of the houses. Inside this hard shell the fleshy part of the coconut and the coconut water. The fleshy part is used for cooking. From the scraped fleshy part we can make coconut milk and is used for cooking and also for beauty care products like hair oil, soaps, perfumes etc. Coconut milk makes hair smooth and gives excellent growth. By using coconut milk, skin also becomes soft and smooth. Coconut oil is extracted from the dry flesh called copra. The remaining part is the oil cake which goes as the food for the cattle.The pure coconut oil is used for cooking which gives aroma and taste to food. A favorite drink in Kerala is KALLU (Toddy) which is extracted from coconut palm
A true Malayalee cannot imagine what life would be like without coconuts in Kerala. The trunk of the coconut tree is used for making furniture and beams of houses. If the trunk is not useful for furniture, it is used as firewood. The entwined coconut palm leaves are used for thatching houses and for fencing. The palm leave ribs are used for making brooms. The dried coconut palm leaves are also used as firewood. The coconut flowers have a medicinal value and mostly this part goes for making special type of a pudding like sweet dish. Pookkulalehyam made with this is taken by the delivered ladies, since this improves the health of uterus and stops bleeding. The top portion of coconut tree is also a delicious one called Manda (top) and we get this only when a coconut tree is cut. The roots of the coconut tree are very long, which normally go deep down. People dig down to take this out and it can be used as fire wood for many days. Some artistic people carve different shapes from root and used as table legs with glass top and also as show pieces.
The coconut tree grows well in the areas where it gets human presence. When the care increases it gives more fruits. The coconut tree is an integral part of the landscape of Kerala.
As you travel across the green landscape of God's Own Country on Kerala tours, with Kerala Backwater you're sure to see acres of land covered with Rubber plantations. These green zones are a beautiful sight for the visiting tourist in Kerala and are also a vital part of the economy of Kerala.
Rubber plant is not the native plant of India. Due to the similar climate Dutch colonialists introduced rubber in Kerala. Kerala is the leader in rubber production among the states of India. More than 90 percent of the Rubber produced in India is from Kerala.
The plant produces sticky white latex commonly called as milk of rubber, after processing we will get natural rubber. Rubber trees are characterized by their straight trunks and smooth green leaves.
Extraction of Rubber
A rubber plant grows till 7 year before it can be extracted from. Rubber tree can be productive for more the 20 years. There are professional extractors for this process.
First they make a curving cut on the bark of the tree. Below the cut a cup (usually coconut shells) is tied to seep down the latex from the cut. Every morning the extractor empties the cup and replaces it. After a few days another cut is made just below or above the previous cut. This process continues for 20 years till it stops producing latex. Then a new rubber plane is planted at this place.
Pineapple is planted as an intercrop in most of the Kerala rubber plantations.