Devise a Coconut-Picking Machine, Win 1 Million Rupees


Coconuts are big business in the Indian state of Kerala, but since the decline of the caste system, which once dictated people’s professions, professional coconut-pickers have become hard to find. Young men from the region would rather go off to find white-collar jobs than shimmy up coconut palms all day. Between 2005 and 2008, coconut production in Kerala went from from 6 million to 5.5 million.

So the Keralan government has issued a world-wide challenge: Invent an inexpensive machine that can be operated from the ground, and can pick coconuts off palms up to 30 meters high. The winner will receive 1 million rupees (about $20,600).


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 24, 2009

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