Coconut proves a tough tree for machines

Coconut palm still remains a tough tree to be conquered by machines even as the land of coconut is in desperate search for one due to the grim shortage of manual climbers.

Last Updated: Oct 08, 2010, 14:10 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: Coconut palm still
remains a tough tree to be conquered by machines even as the
land of coconut is in desperate search for one due to the grim
shortage of manual climbers.

Various devices developed by innovators to scale the
tall tree proved far from successful during a competition-cum
demonstration organised by Kerala Industries Department at a
palm garden near here yesterday.

Of the 12 gadgets shortlisted for the contest, just a
single one could progress beyond the half-way height of the
tree but still failed to reach the summit and pluck the nuts.

While most of the designs put on display were
rope-and-pulley devices to be operated from the ground, what
hogged the limelight of the day was a motorised machine with
wheels and a seat for the plucker fitted to it.

The machine, designed by one Chandran from Thrissur,
went up slightly above the halfway mark but had to make a
comeback before summiting the tree.

Chandran, however, sounded confident of perfecting his
brain child into a reliable machine and making it available at
affordable coast to farmers.

The idea of holding a contest for innovators was
mooted by the Industries Department last year. As many as 400
concepts were received, out of which the innovators of 109
designs were shortlisted for interviews. The technical
committee chose eight proposals and gave them Rs one lakh each
for incubation.

Apart from these a few other innovators also came up
for competition with the devices developed on their own
without any state aid.

A senior Industries Department official, however, said
the response was quite encouraging and the day would not be
far off when a perfect machine was going to evolved.

Shortage of coconut pluckers was grave problem faced
by the farm sector in Kerala, most due to the reluctance of
the young generation to take to the hard profession.

PTI