This Innovative ‘Coconut Tree Climber’ Makes Life and the Task of Climbing a Cake Walk!
Mangaluru: We have seen the struggles faced by tree climbers, especially when it comes to climbing the tall coconut or areca nut trees. Here in this coastal area , we have lots of coconut trees, but finding a person to climb and pluck the coconuts has been hard.Traditionally professional climbers have been engaged by coconut planters for plucking the fruits from the top of the coconut trees, by using their hands and legs, which is a herculean task. But with time, the art of tree climbing has lost its lustre and it is now quite difficult to find such professional climbers. And, to make life easier for present tree climbers, there have been quite a few new innovative tree climbers that would make life and climbing a cake walk for the person.
This afternoon, while visiting my friend Mrs Sabrina Britto Hougaard’s house in Falnir, Mangaluru, where she had called in a coconut tree climber, but I noticed something unique which I had never seen before- an innovative Coconut Tree Climber/Tool. This unique tree climbing tool consists of two metal loops that are meant for holding the legs. They have a handle at the top for hand grip and a pedal base at the bottom. The loops are put around the tree trunk on the opposite sides. The loop on either side is lifted up by the simultaneous movement of the hand and feet. By such alternate motion, one can easily climb a coconut tree in minutes.
This simple and easy-to-use device to climb up or down coconut palm, arecanut or other similar trees is handy for people untrained to climb up such tall trees, enabling them to accomplish the task swiftly and with ease. It can be very useful for even trained people. They can reduce drudgery, and climb faster using less energy. It can be used for gathering nuts or spraying pesticides. It can also be used to climb electric poles with some modifications. Coupled with some basic safety devices like a harness, this device makes climbing up a straight-trunk tree or a pole quick, easy and safe. The device, with no sophisticated technology, has been used by coconut tree climbers in North Karnataka.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Nagaraj aged 32, said, “Before I bought this tree climber device four years ago, I was climbing coconut and arecanut trees for nearly seven years, using my bare hands and legs, which was hectic and very risky. Since I bought this device for Rs 6500, it has been very helpful and made my life easier and also climbing palm trees easy. With this device I can climb and come down a tree in 10 minutes, while earlier it would take over 20-25 minutes. If the coconut tree is straight with no curves, then it is still easier. Daily about 10 to 15 people call me, and I try to oblige everyone, depending on the weather. But I have no problem climbing the palm trees even when it rains, since using the device to climb the tree is safe, and there’s no chance of slipping. My brother-in-law Laxman (23) also helps me in my job, and he too sometimes climbs the palm trees. Daily I make an income of Rs 2000-Rs 2500, able to support a family of ten, by the grace of God”.
In our region, it is hard to overstate the importance of the coconut. Harvested throughout the season, the coconut is unique in that every part of it can be used at every stage of its growth. Fresh “tender” coconuts are sold on street corners for their juice. Mature coconuts are used in myriad chutneys and curries. Older nuts are harvested for their oil, used in hair oils and soaps. Even the fibrous husk is not discarded; it can be used to make a variety of handicrafts and the fibre can be woven into rope. But, our region is grappling with a crisis caused by the shortage of tree climbers, to pluck the much needed Coconut. It should be noted that these days, coconut tree climbers are earning big money, more than a bank manager.
Just imagine, if they make Rs 2000-2500 a day, like Nagaraj, you are talking about Rs 50 K to 60K a month. So why aren’t more people clamouring to climb trees? Probably they think it’s dangerous, and it is better to find a job abroad or in a mega company. High rates of migration have further exacerbated the trend, as many of local traditional climbers have moved overseas to pursue more lucrative opportunities. The labour shortage has meant that the remaining climbers frequently charge exorbitant rates. So right now, traditional climbers are retired from the scenario, and replacement is not taking place.
But with the invention of sophisticated Tree climber devices, there could be chances that the present generation could take up this trade, when many have lost their jobs during the pandemic. The government should try to motivate the people and elevate their social status and self-esteem through good training, plus incentives for upward mobility in society, and decent remuneration. In the interim, people have to rely on local climbers to pluck the coconuts or arecanuts, no matter, how much the climbers charge. On good days, our young Nagaraj, may be approached by 10-15 people out-bidding one another to secure his services for the day. Though he has a busy schedule, he says that anyone can secure his services, and he’ll oblige them. You can call him at 8197001403.
On a final note, Mrs Sabrina Britto who was curious and keen on learning the tree climbing technique, using the ‘Tree Climber’ with training from Nagaraj and Laxman, so that she could save a few hundreds, of Nagaraj’s fees next time, gave it a try, which lasted for two minutes! Meantime, she should also realize that learning the risky palm tree climbing technique is not something easy like her ‘Life Skills Therapist and Counselor for Pro-Life Activities profession? Anyways, best of luck Sabrina, in your Palm Tree Climbing Adventure!