Kerala literally means the land of the coconut palm. The first thing that comes to the mind when one imagines Kerala is the array of beautiful coconut trees. Coconut is an integral part of Kerala’s rich customs, cuisines and culture. Traditionally professional climbers (thandan) have been engaged by coconut farmers for harvesting. With time, the cult of thadans is dying, as many choose a different profession, the reasons being the high risk involved and the little money they make.
It is however, hard to imagine life without coconut in Kerala. With shortage in the traditional coconut tree climbers, the only option available was to enable a common farmer to climb the coconut tree. M J Joseph, also known as Appachan, a farmer from Kannur was saddened by this problem and developed a coconut tree climber in response. According to National Innovation Foundation (NIF), his homemade device takes only 1-2 minutes to climb a 130-foot tree when compared to the 4-5 minutes usually required by a thadan.
Appachan was a school dropout, but was a natural at using things from his surrounding to create practical solutions to real problems. He had even created an instrument that could squeeze coconut milk, and juice from fruits. In 2006, his innovation received a patent and became certified as agricultural machinery for post harvest by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF). Apart from Indian territories, this device has been traded to countries like U.S.A., Mexico, Maldives, Thailand, Australia and Brazil.
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