"It has become impossible to get a coconut plucker to come on time which is around 45 days when the coconuts have to be plucked. We have to wait for the person at the junction where he frequents and when he finally arrives, it is a fight to finish to take him from other people who are also there to take him away," said Krishnan Kutty, a retired engineer in the capital city who has four coconut trees at his home.

Coconut farming in Kerala is spread over 820,000 hectares. The state contributes 42.4 percent of the total production of coconuts in the country. In the year 2011-12, of the 14,006 million nuts produced in the country, Kerala accounted for 5,941 million nuts.

"I have been in this profession for the past four decades and, mind you, it's only in the last few years that our stock has increased because this has become a dying profession. I am 67 and in a day I cannot climb more than 10 trees," said Manikuttan, a coconut climber in the commercial capital of Kochi.

The price of a coconut today ranges between Rs 8 and Rs 10. The average yield in cities is around 8 to 10 coconuts per tree and most households require a minimum of one coconut a day for cooking purposes.

Kerala has 2.5 million migrant labourers and coconut tree owners fervently hope that they take to plucking coconuts to tide over the problem.

(Agencies)

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