by Ruwanthi Abeyakoon
‘Ode to Autumn’ by the famous English Romantic poet John Keats, is what comes to my mind as I travel down the High Level Road.
For Keats it was the vines and the apple trees that were loaded and blessed abundantly with fruit but here in Sri Lanka it is all about Rambutan. Yes the season of these mouth-watering fruits have begun
The neatly arranged Rambutans by the road side, makes a lovely sight and tempts the passers-by to stop and part with a few rupee notes to get intoxicated in this delicious taste. Once you have tasted this luscious fruit you are sure to get addicted. Rambutan, a tropical fruit native to the Malayan archipelago is grown in Malwana, village reputed to be heartland of this fruit.
If you happen to take the roads of Malwana during the Rambutan season, you will be awed to see the trees studded with millions of rubies.
Of course these fruits are rubies to those who make a living out of selling them. Ranil Kumara who comes from Kosgama is one such man who turns these heavenly fruits into rupees.
“There are many acres of Rambutan in Malwana. We buy these fruits from the owners.
As the season just began fruits are a little expensive these days. We are selling a fruit at about Rs. 10 to 12. The price will come down gradually,” Kumara said.
“This time the fruits were abundant. Every tree had fruits alike. The harvest was more than last year. If it rains too much when the trees are full of flowers it affects the crop. This year the climate was perfect for the fruits. I make a living by selling rambutan. I hope to earn a few extra rupees this year,” he added.
Sujith Weerasinghe has been in this business for more than twenty years. Weerasinghe also sells Durian, another seasonal fruit with a creamy filling which is popular in many countries.
“Every year during the season I come to Colombo to do business. We buy Duriyan from Deraniyagala. These days a fruit is sold at about Rs. 150, 200 and even 250. Some times the price increases to about Rs 600 to 700. The sales are less this time.
This year there were fruits several times. June is the season but about two months ago also there were fruits. The fruits are tasty during the season. It is hardly that we do not make profits.
Otherwise business is profitable. These fruits unlike other fruits ripe on the tree. You cant pluck and keep to ripe. No carbide is used to ripen the fruits. So it is nutritious and safe. Lots of foreigners buy fruits from us. They love these fruits,” Weerasinghe explained.
“Some people do not like Durian because of its strong odour but it is has many medicinal values. People should not dissuade from trying this delicious fruit just because of its odour. Once you taste the fruit the odour will never overpower you,” he added.
W. Piyadasa from Moratuwa has been in the business for about 25 to 30 years. “I am an old hand in this business. Along with Rambutan, I sell Mangosteen and Durian. This is the season for all three fruits. This time the harvest is plenty but the sales did not steer up yet.
People still do not know that the season for these fruits have begun. When the business picks up the place will be full of vehicles. We sell a Rambutan fruit at ten rupees,” Piyadasa said.
“We buy these fruits from planters in Malwana. They have many acres of Rambutan. Sometimes they cheat us when we buy a lot of fruit.
After sales we find out that there had been less fruits. These are some of the problems we encounter in doing this business. Nevertheless it is a profitable business,” He added.
According to Piyadasa, Rambutan, Mangosteen and Durian are highly nutritious fruits.
“Mangosteen is good for sugar and gas. It has both sweet and sour tastes. It has been used to restore intestinal health for centuries.
The fruit is helpful in preventing a wide range of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Mangosteen is used to cure many other infections. People do not know the value of this fruit but foreigners value it very much. Once an American who came to buy fruits said mangosteen is juiced and sold in their country at a very high price,” Piyadasa said.
“Durian is also a healthy fruit. Even the Durian seed has medicinal benefits. You have to cut the seed and steep it in the water overnight and drink the water empty stomach. It is very nutritious.
Durian is rich in energy. People are not aware of these values that is why they are reluctant to buy these fruits,” he added.
These vendors are not just making a living but they are also involved in protecting the environment and keeping the commercial city of the country beautiful. The authorities have found out that the Rambutan shell can be a breeding place for dengue mosquito. Thus these vendors are advised by the Bampalapitiya Environment Police unit on keeping the area clean.
“Water can get collected in the Rambutan shells which can result in spreading the dengue epidemic. Dengue has caused many deaths and we are concerned about this issue. So each one of us keep a basket to collect the shells the and we keep the surrounding clean.
The area is daily inspected by the Environment Police Bambalapitiya.
They have given us a set of rules to follow. Not even a leaf can be on the ground. The pavement should be clean. We are thankful to the Environment Police and the DIG of Bambalapitiya for giving this space to do our sales and we are happy to be a part of a social service while doing business,” vendors said.
If you have not yet had a chance to taste these heavenly fruits, it is high time to head to High Level Road. Once you get your hands on some of these exotic fruits and taste them you will surely find the drive in the heavy traffic worthwhile. courtesy: DailyNews