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Monkeys harvest coconuts!

There are more nuts to harvest than there are people who harvest. Not many are willing to risk their limb and life by taking up coconut harvesting as their profession. People are opting for more lucrative and safer professions and labour availability has become an acute problem, particularly when it comes to coconut harvesting.

In such a situation, harvesting coconuts by using trained monkeys is considered efficient and cost-effective. This is largely practiced in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The pig-tailed Macaque Macacus nemestrinus is the species that is trained to pick coconuts.

The modus operandi is as follows:—A cord is fastened round the monkey’s waist, and it is led to a coconut palm which it rapidly climbs, it then lays hold of a nut, and if the owner judges the nut to be ripe for plucking he shouts to the monkey, which then twists the nut round and round till the stalk is broken and lets it fall to the ground; if the monkey catches hold of an unripe nut, the owner tugs the cord and the monkey tries another.  This practice has been in vogue since several centuries and training schools for monkeys still exist in southern Thailand. Competitions are also held each year to discover the fastest harvester.

In the wake of labour scarcity this method of harvesting coconuts deserves a relook.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.