The industries department in Kerala has announced a Rs 1 lakh prize for anyone who can develop a coconut-plucking machine. Each tree has to be shorn of fruit every 45 days, traditionally done by a man with nimble feet and hands. But as climbing went out of fashion, and charges increased from Rs 5 per tree to Rs 25, trees were left with pregnant fruit that simply fell off. There have been machines for non-professional climbers; women began learning to climb; a climbing school was opened, but none sufficed. Now, the government’s looking for an instrument that can be used by someone standing on the ground.
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