Success Stories

Mechanical coconut harvester A boon to the farmers of Kanyakumari district

S.Suresh and K.Eraivan, KrishiVigyan Kendra, Tamilnadu Agricultural University, Pechiparai 629 161

In Kanyakumari district, coconut is the major crop and is cultivated in about 24,000 hectares. The soil and climatic conditions prevailing in this region is highly suited for cultivation of coconuts and each and every household have one or two coconut palms. In recent years, harvesting of coconuts in correct stage and time is found difficult due to labour scarcity. The traditional method of coconut climbing is cumbersome, risky and less effective, because of high energy consuming process. The younger generations are not showing interest to engage them in this activity because of poor respect in the society. The aged people alone are doing traditional harvest. Often these aged people fall from coconut palms leading to permanent handicap (or) death. In traditional methods farmers are harvesting an average of 70-90 palms per day. The climbers cannot do the harvest during rainy seasons, since Kanyakumari District is benefited by both south west and north - east monsoons and this further affected the timely harvest of coconuts. The labourers harvesting the coconut in traditional way are demanding Rs10 to12/tree and they are attending harvesting on an average of 3 months interval. This has led to yield reduction due to improper maintenance of coconut palms and loss by theft of fallen coconuts.

In this juncture, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kanyakumari introduced the mechanical coconut harvesting device and various trainings and demonstrations were conducted in different locations of the district to create awareness. A total of 21 numbers of trainings and demonstrations were conducted in 20 villages of the district. A total number of 331 men and 83 women participated in the programmes.

There are two models of mechanical coconut harvesting device viz., (i) TNAU model and (ii) Kerala model. The TNAU model is highly safe and it takes little more time (7-10 minutes) for climbing the palm, but the aged and women farmers are preferring TNAU model .The Kerala model is little unsafe, but it is preferred by the labourers and youths for harvesting of coconuts. TNAU model is a rectangular frame type, one fitted at bottom for standing and the other fitted at top for sitting.

Successful outcome

The mechanical device for coconut harvest attracted the unemployed youths. At present the trained unemployed youths formed groups of 4-6 members of each and started harvesting the coconuts. The groups are formed in various places of the district namely Rajavoor, Colachel, Thuckalay Marthandam and Monday market locations. They are taking the device in two wheelers (cycle) and harvesting the coconuts. These groups are starting the harvest by 6.30 am and completing by 12.00 noon. Within this time they are harvesting 100 to 125 palms on an average. These coconut harvesting groups are charging Rs.7-10/tree depending on the total number of coconut trees available and also based on the height of the tree. Each individual is having cell phone and they are communicating the programme to the customer in advance. This has encouraged the farmers and coconut growers of the district. In the afternoon, these youths are involved in their regular home activities. They are working in all the days, even in rainy days with hat, except on sundays. Each individual is earning Rs 1000 /day and leading a happy life. Some of the mazons who were engaged in construction work also shifted the job to harvesting of coconut, since it seems to be highly remunerative. The labour scarcity for harvest of coconuts thereby is in a declining trend.

The trained persons who are employed in government and private organizations are utilizing the holidays and Sundays for harvesting the coconuts of their own. At times of urgent need of tender coconut for household purpose, the people themselves are using this device for harvesting.

Mechanical harvester professional groups formed

Thiru G. Suresh of Rajavoor with his five members group is doing the mechanical harvest in the villages nearby this village. He was initially a tailor shifted his profession to coconut climbing using the mechanical device. He is demanding Rs 7-10/palm

Thiru V. Thanesh from Monday market, using the mechanical device for harvesting coconut in the surrounding villages. He is having group members of 4. He is earning wages of Rs 8-10/palm.

Thiru C. Suresh, a farmer of Thuckalay is harvesting coconuts in the villages around his native village. He is charging Rs.7.50 to 10 /palm in the villages and Rs. 15 to 20 /palm in the urban areas. Thiru.G.George of Marthandam with his 4 members group doing the mechanical harvest. He is charging Rs 8 to 10/palm for harvest.

Hands on training at villages

A trained unemployed youth Thiru D.Venus of Colachel village is serving as a trainer and he himself trained more than 50 persons in mechanical coconut harvester. He is giving training on using mechanical device and also harvesting the coconuts in the nearby villages and charging Rs 7.50 to 10/palm. He is having 6 members in his group.

Thiru R. Ramu of Putheri village is a trained person working in a fertilizer shop. He is also giving training at his leisure hours to the farmers and youths.

At present, averages of 250-300 coconut mechanical harvesting devices are being used in the district. The technology is a boon to the farmers and growers of coconut in the district.