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It was in November 2017, that I heard from Mr. Santosh Kumar from ICA-AP, about the Irula snake catchers cooperative at Mahabalipuram near Chennai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. In April 2019, there arose a need for me to use the services of snake catchers. While searching, I came across another snake catcher's cooperative existing near Mahalingamalai, near Pudokottai district, Tamil Nadu. 


Six to seven families jointly work as a cooperative to catch snakes which venture into homes or poultry farms. These families work laboriously in a profession that is facing near extinction. Yet, they enthusiastically speak of values, hard work and hope for a healthy life. Their job isn't an easy one. They have to conquer their fear of dangerous snakes while simultaneously preventing the disruption of the food cycle. Small cooperatives like these do not feature in plans for training, education or even scaling up. Yet, they're quite significant and thankfully receive medical and insurance support from the government. 


Snakes caught at the cooperative.



I learnt lessons on what to do when facing a snake in a high-pressure situation from men and women who had swollen hands infected by venom. They catch dangerous snakes like the cobra as well! As they were preparing to leave having caught several dozen snakes in a jute bag, I wondered that these cooperators can earn much more if they have knowledge about how the venom can be processed to make medicines etc. Such cooperatives require infrastructural and financial support for their growth. With the kind of potential that cooperatives possess, I do ask myself why are they not allowed to be listed on stock exchanges?


Submitted by Mr. R. Ramachandran, Director, IFFCO.