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Neater nut processing

Sriyani's story: shelling the nuts

Sriyani works at the Vanathavilluwa cashew processing plant. She is a sheller - she splits cashew nuts to get the kernels we like to eat.

Shelling is hard work. The women hammer each nut until it splits, then use a small punch to separate the kernel. All of the work is done by hand and the women wear gloves to protect themselves from the stinging milk that surrounds the kernels.

The women work a long day in difficult conditions. Like most, Sriyani gets up early and does household chores before starting work at 8am. She then works through until 5pm, sitting on the dusty floor of a dark, hot thatched shed.

The women are paid piece rates, according to the weight of kernels they produce by the end of the day. Most shellers manage 5kg (about 4,800 nuts) per day, for which they are paid 25 rupees per kilogram (about 20p).

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