European Diplomats to Inspect Coconut Farms for Monkey Labor

A monkey plays with a coconut on Samui island.
A monkey plays with a coconut on Samui island.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Diplomats at the European embassies in Bangkok will visit plantations of short-stemmed coconut trees in southern Thailand where humans, and no monkeys, do the picking of coconuts, a government official said on Thursday.

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset confirmed the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Commerce have jointly planned to take European diplomats and others to coconut plantations in the southern province of Surat Thani to see human picking of coconuts with the use of equipment from the coconut trees, which are only 10 to 12 meters.

Thailand’s coconut processing and export entirely depends on huge volumes of coconut fruit picked by humans from short coconut trees and not on a tiny amount of coconut fruit picked by monkeys from relatively tall coconut trees, according to the deputy agriculture minister.

Her comments followed news reports that supermarkets and retail stores in England and other European states have banned Thai coconut milk and coconut water in the wake of allegations raised by an animal rights group, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, that monkeys had been abused into picking coconut fruit in the kingdom.