Sri Lanka toddy tappers face extinction

WADDUWA, Sri Lanka, Nov 12, 2012 (AFP) – Clambering between high trees carrying a knife in the search for sap to brew alcoholic drinks is a young man’s game — and Sri Lanka’s ageing toddy tappers say the craft is dying. “I don’t know for how long I can continue this because it is becoming very difficult to find toddy tappers,” he told AFP. “My grandfather had 35 toddy tappers in his employ, but I have only seven.

Local estimates suggest that the number of tappers in Sri Lanka has dwindled to less than 7,000 compared to about 50,000 tappers four decades ago.

Seneviratne sells the toddy to a nearby distillery and pays one third of the sale proceeds to his workers.

One of his employees, Ranasinghe Perera, 54, says poor pay and occupational hazards discourage rookies and he admits he nearly came crashing down recently when stung by wasps.
“The payment is not enough for the hard labour we put rolex replica in and the risks we take,” Perera said.

Sri Lanka’s main Coconut Research Institute (CRI) has tried to formalise training toddy tappers and help secure the fading craft, but its efforts soon fizzled out.

“There is a social stigma