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A few western publishers have been reporting about Thailand’s alleged unethical use of monkey labour in coconut farming, resulting in wide-spreading boycotts as reported by Bangkok Post. Monkey-picked coconuts have caught the eye of western animal-rights groups, which could potentially have severe economic impacts on one of Thailand’s agricultural cornerstones.

The monkeys are caught from the wild and trained to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). 

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A human, despite our shared common ancestor, can’t keep up with that pace, being able to pick up only around 80 coconuts.

“Following Peta Asia’s investigation, more than 15,000 stores will no longer purchase these brands’ products, with the majority also no longer buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand monkey labour,” the group states on its website.

Those monkeys could soon be losing their jobs soon, with the surging popularity of specifically developed dwarf coconut trees.

Thailand has engineered dwarf coconut trees to be more suited for human labour. A traditional coconut tree can grow up to 30 meters tall, while dwarf coconut trees stay at around 5-7 meters.  The Kingdom’s Deputy Agriculture Minister, Mananya Thaiset is planning a visit at the Surat Thani Seed Research and Development Center to see the dwarf coconut trees breeding program. The dwarf coconut trees are well-liked amongst coconut growers.

The agricultural minister dismissed the reason behind the boycotts mentioning the coconuts despatched to the factories for making coconut milk have been harvested by people.

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Mananya was additionally scheduled to visit a monkey training center in Surat Thani’s provincial seat, which is a part of the Klong Noi sub-district tourism community enterprise.

The training center announced it’s preparedness to welcome any international diplomats to observe local ways of life in raising and training monkeys. 

Relating to accusations on monkey labor by the rights group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Mananya stated she ordered the Division of Agriculture (DoA) to research the case immediately.

All coconut plantations for exported products use human labor, she said.

The minister instructed DoA to grant Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) certifications to certified coconut growers for clarification to trade partnersin order that they won’t ban Thai coconut merchandise, which may have an effect on greater than 200,000 households, depending on the coconut trade.

The online message boards and their keyboard warriors have been on the case, many Thai’s showing in support of the local tradition.

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“Some trees are too high for humans to climb, training monkeys for the job protects people from injury”, one Thai lady commented.

Some commentators even proposed bringing western animal-rights activists to pick the coconuts themselves to see how they’ll manage it.

Sounds like a brilliant new idea for a TV-Show.

Source: Pattaya Mail, Bangkok Post

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