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Vairamani, Tata Coffee

Star Picker

Vairamani is the coffee-picking wizard of Tata Coffee's Yemmigoondi estate, bagging the company's 'Highest Picker Award' for the 10th consecutive year

September 2022     |     711 words     |     3-minute read

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At 48, she continues to perform her job with the same energy and enthusiasm as she did when she joined the company nearly two decades ago to take up a job as coffee picker at Tata Coffee’s Yemmigoondi estate, situated in the Coorg district of Karnataka. Today, Vairamani — who calls the estate her second home — is the highest picker, bagging the ‘Highest Picker Award 2022’ by Tata Coffee for the 10th consecutive year.

In peak picking season, she has managed to pick 577kg of ripe coffee cherries in a day, averaging 366.54kg a day for the season. A punctual worker with a 98% year-on-year attendance, Vairamani demonstrates high levels of commitment that go beyond the call of duty. “Vairamani is passionate and self-motivated. Not just in coffee picking, she displays high levels of performance in every job assigned to her and is a good mentor to young employees at the estate. It is very rare to find someone like her, and Yemmigoondi coffee estate is blessed to have such a wonderful employee,” says KP Appaiah, deputy general manager, Tata Coffee.

"Tata Coffee is my second home and the best employer."

On being asked about the secret behind her 10 consecutive wins as the highest picker, she replies unassumingly, “My children are the reason I perform to the best of my abilities. If I work hard, I can give them a better life. The incentive system introduced by Tata Coffee has enabled me to increase my earnings.” It’s through the dint of sheer hard work that Vairamani has managed to give quality education to her three children.

Her journey

Vairamani’s bond with the coffee plantations started soon after marriage when she moved from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to Yemmigoondi with her husband, Sri Guruva, who is also employed at the estate. To begin with, she learned the art of coffee picking by observing others and, subsequently, underwent training at the company.

Today, she is a coffee-picking wizard, demonstrating dexterity in picking the cherry clusters off the branches by twisting instead of stripping. “Twisting the cluster ensures less damage to the plant’s flowering prospect in the next season,” states Vairamani who is training novices in the art and science of picking ripe cherries.

A typical day for Vairamani starts at the crack of dawn. After preparing breakfast and lunch, she leaves for work by 7am. The roll call at the estate is followed by assigning coffee fields for picking by the ayya (field officer). The whole day, barring the lunch break, is spent in picking the finest Arabica coffee cherries at the estate. In the evenings, the family eats dinner together and watches a Tamil serial. When asked how she overcomes the fatigue of an arduous day, she responds, “A hot cup of coffee after work peps me up. And with help from my husband who pitches in together, I don’t feel stressed.”

A caring employer

“Tata Coffee is my second home and the best employer,” says Vairamani, adding, “I feel proud working at Tata coffee, and I wish to continue working with the company till my last day. I have always received my payments on time and received all the benefits I deserve. The company takes very good care of us,” she avers. 

Her proudest moment at work is when tasks at the estate, including handling, manuring, and picking are completed ahead of time. Apart from the occasional intrusion of elephants in the fields, she says there are no other real challenges at work. Having an amiable disposition, Vairamani believes in building friendships and working collectively to achieve the best results.

Her husband, Guruva, who works as a labour supervisor of Chickyemmigoondi division at the estate, is her pillar of strength. Their children are well settled with the eldest daughter married to an army officer who is stationed in Rajasthan, her younger daughter is pursuing her studies in Madurai while her son works at Pollibetta in Karnataka. Living amid nature with abundant water bodies and a salubrious climate, Vairamani spends her weekends tending to her vegetable garden at home.

Hard work and loyalty have reaped rich benefits for Vairamani, who says, “Work hard in whatever you do and help others along the way so that they in turn can do good to others.”

—Farah Dada

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