Thailand Has Rejected Accusations Of Using Monkeys To Harvest Coconut On An Industrial Scale
Thailand does not use monkeys to harvest coconuts on an industrial scale for export production. This statement was made by the Minister of Trade of the Kingdom Churin Laxanavisit, rejecting the accusations made by the organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Its activists claim that primates trained by Thai farmers to harvest coconuts are being mistreated. In this regard, PETA called for a boycott of coconut-based products produced in Thailand. "Monkeys no longer collect coconuts on an industrial scale in Thailand," the official was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.
However, the Minister admitted that farmers still train monkeys to collect coconuts, but only on a small scale, because this procedure is a kind of tourist attraction. Laxanavisit said that the authorities plan to invite foreign diplomats and show them how the harvest is done so that they make sure that there is no mistreatment of primates during this process.
According to the Minister, the PETA charge has damaged sales of Thai coconut milk in the European Union. About 70% of this product exported to the UK is distributed in supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels run by Asians. The annual export of coconut milk brings Thailand about 12.3 billion baht ($396 million), of which 2.25 billion baht ($72.44 million) or 18% comes from the EU.
Machines for the harvesting of coconut
PETA has accused Thai farmers of trapping pig-tailed macaques in the wild for use as "coconut harvesting machines." Animal rights activists say that each monkey is forced to collect up to a thousand coconuts a day. After an investigation by PETA Asia, more than 15,000 stores refused to purchase Thai coconut products.
The Thai social media segment immediately reacted to PETA's accusations. According to one user, if PETA believes that using monkeys to collect coconuts is animal cruelty, then it is necessary to boycott dairy products since they are also produced cruelly.
The head of the network of producers of coconuts Phonak Batrak said that the boycott has not affected sales of its products. "Two years ago, EU trade representatives opposed the use of monkeys to collect coconuts in Thailand, but later they realized that this is not animal cruelty, as some organizations claim," he recalled.
Niran Wongwanit, 52, who grows coconuts and trains monkeys in Surat Thani, believes that the PETA campaign is unfair to Thai farmers, as the tradition of using primates in harvesting dates back more than 100 years. He explained that before they had monkeys, farmers climbed palm trees themselves. "These days, monkeys are bred. Once they reach a certain age, they are trained before being sent to coconut farms across the country," said Niran Wongwanit.