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Traditional Method of Coconut Oil Extraction: Asha Devi Varma’s Quest to revive it

Asha Devi Varma, a retired agricultural officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction.

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Asha Devi Varma at her residence in Kerala. Image Source : thehindu.com
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  • Asha Devi Varma, a retired officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction
  • She is doing so with the help of advice from doctors and Ayurveda experts and local women who help her with daily preparations
  • Her business is small but the products are highly recommended by doctors

In the recent years, the growing demand of coconut and the health benefits attached to it has led companies experiment with it and make it fancier day by day. The coconut products have become commercialized to a large extent- seasoning for desserts, for making quirky cocktails, drinks- commercialization has made everything profitable for the coconut industry. However, the original process of extracting virgin coconut oil has almost disappeared from the households of Kerala.

Asha Devi Varma is a retired agricultural officer who is attempting to revive the natural process of coconut oil extraction in Kerala. Previously, women used to process coconut to extract the virgin oil naturally at home through a process called velichenna kaachiyathu which protected the goodness of the oil.

Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com
Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com

After having retired from service, Asha Devi was not ready to live the life of a retiree. She wanted to do something to make a difference. She went over to young housewives and asked them if they knew the process of extracting coconut oil from coconuts. She was surprised to discover that none of the women of the current generation know anything about the process of extraction. “It came as a surprise to me but none of the women from this generation knew the way coconut oil is extracted traditionally, something that their grandmothers would have done routinely,” said Asha to The Hindu. So she contacted some elderly ladies and Ayurveda experts to get a firsthand experience of the process.

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After having learnt the process, she brought in young ladies from the local area to start learning it. The initial phase was difficult since it was a delicate process and it was impossible to get it right on the first try. So, the phase of trial and error went on for some time until the art was perfected by them. Now, Asha Devi and her local women prepare homemade baby oil, cooking oil and beauty oil and sell, locally. She gets about 10-12 litres of coconut oil shipped from Lakshadweep to Kerala. Her business has become quite successful.

Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net
Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net

Even though her business is small, it is highly recommended by doctors for babies and their mothers. “Coconut milk has contents that are found in mother’s milk. Its properties are good for hair and skin,” Asha Devi told The Hindu. She further asserted regarding the coconut oil, that, “A couple of spoons taken orally is supposed to heal the body after childbirth. The beauty oil gives a healthy skin. This is traditional knowledge”.

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Asha Devi is thrilled at the way her business is progressing. Her happiness is not just because of the profits or contacts that they are gaining but it is partly because she has succeeded in reviving the traditional method of coconut oil extraction and processing. Her initiative and perseverance are commendable, indeed.

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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Infosys Donates Rs 2.50cr To A Hospital in Kerala

Infosys donates Rs 2.50cr to Kerala hospital

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Infosys donates Rs 2.50cr to Kerala hospital.
Infosys donates Rs 2.50cr to Kerala hospital. (Wikimedia Commons)

Tech major Infosys has donated Rs 2.50 crore to the Neurosurgery Department of the state-run Medical College hospital, here.

The money was used to install a brand new neurosurgery dedicated operating microscope, replacing a two decade old one.

Speaking to IANS, P. Anil, Head of Department Neurosurgery, said that Infosys answered to a request he had made in 2017.

“I took a chance and I wrote to Infosys if they can come to our help. It was an year back. Soon they responded and after they undertook a brief study of our activities, they decided to help us,” he added.

“In between there were some issues with regards to GST but finally the equipment has been installed. We have already put it to use in the first case, a few days back,” said Anil.

Representational image for Hospital.
Representational image. Pixabay

Anil said the new piece of device has come as a huge boon to the patients who mostly come from poor background.

The Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital has the most crowded casualty department with accident cases coming for expert and quick treatment.

Speaking to IANS, Sunil Jose, a top official attached to the Infosys unit here, said their company always has set aside money as part of the corporate social responsibility programme.

“Our studies found out that the department provides yeomen services to accident victims and most of the patients came from the low and middle income category.

“In this microscope project, we started working on it as soon as we got the proposal from the Neurosurgery Department. We felt that they are doing a good job and sanctioned it,” said Jose.

Incidentally this is not the first time that Infosys have helped the hospital. They had built a sky walk connecting the major building after finding out that patients were being moved in stretchers through the road.  IANS