It seems Kerala’s 'tall woes' would end soon. The state government had recently raised an engineering puzzle to find a way to pluck coconut from the ground. Skeptics laughed at the idea but they are now proved wrong.
When the entry for the coconut-plucking machine contest closed on Saturday, 350 innovators were on the race for the Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) award. Interestingly, participants, included 12 women, five foreign firms, including an Italian and Isreali, scientists and skilled tree climbers.
"The response was tremendous. Till Saturday evening, we got 352 entries. Of course, some foreign firms were also there. Since it is a competition, we can’t reveal details now. We will submit all entries to an expert committee which will shortlist eight of them,” M Abdul Majeed, additional director, State Industries and Commerce Departments, told the Hindustan Times.
Most viable and user-friendly, three such innovations will be given Rs 10 lakh each and the government will help them developing their machines commercially. “If everything goes well, these machines will hit the market in six months,” he claimed.
The highest coconut-producing state, Kerala has been facing an acute shortage of tree climbers. With young generation opting for safer, less arduous and white colour jobs, the oil palm sector has been feeling the pinch. The government had introduced training and big incentives for them but they all failed to yield any result.
In Thailand and Malaysia,often monkeys are trained to gather nuts from the sky-rise trees. In other parts, hydraulic platforms are used to lift harvesters. But these steps weren’t proved economically viable. Now all eyes are on the mechanical substitute of human harvesters. The land of ‘kera’ (coconut) is upbeat (the state derived its name from its sky-hitting trees).