Monkeys to be trained to pick coconuts

Monkeys are to be trained in Kerala, southern India, to pick coconuts because traditional local palm tree climbers are no longer willing to take the risk for low wages.

The numbers of palm climbers has declined sharply in recent years as the young low caste men who do the dangerous job - climbing 9m-12m with their bare hands or a scarf - have broken away from their traditional role to take better paid jobs.

Their freedom, however, has plunged the Indian state's coconut industry into decline and officials are desperate to revive it.

In 2009, they offered a one million rupee prize (around $24,000) to the first inventor to create a "coconut-picking machine".

The prize failed to find a solution and now officials have turned to the best tree climbers known to man - monkeys.

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