25 years since coconut husking became child’s play

This is one item which would easily find a place on a list of the most common household implements today. Developed in 1995 by two university teachers from Kerala, the hand-operated tool literally made peeling the tough, fibrous outer covering of coconuts child’s play.

The easy-to-use Coconut Husking Tool (CHT), which was also christened ‘Keramithra,’ turned 25 years old this year.

The dehusker was developed by Jippu Jacob, then Associate Professor at the Kelappaji College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology (KCAET), under the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), and Joby Bastian, then Assistant Professor at the same college.

The invention won a patent for the duo and the KAU.

Simple and safe

‘Keramithra’ consisted of a simple lever mechanism with two blades — a stationary one on a stand and a movable one operated using the lever. The tool’s USP was its simplicity and relative safety.

The story begins when the then KAU Vice Chancellor A.M. Michael returned from a visit to the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, with a blueprint of a husking machine. He handed it over to C.P. Muhammad, then Head of the Department, Farm Power Machinery and Energy (FPME). But when Prof. Muhammad left on a foreign assignment, Dr. Jacob and Dr. Bastian took up the challenge.

One day, V.P. Kannan, technical supervisor at the college lab suggested that short-handled smithy tongs can be used to husk coconuts. But it was not the ideal solution and there was also an element of risk involved.

Tongs and Paara in one

“What we developed eventually was a cross between smithy tongs and the ‘Paara’ (the crowbar or stake-type traditional dehusking tool),” says Dr. Jacob. Dr. Bastian attributed their invention’s lasting popularity to its simplicity. And it did not cost that much. In 1995, the assumption was that a single piece would cost just ₹100.

Dr. Jacob, who hails from Cherai, is at present Adjunct Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Amal Jyothi College of Engineering, Kanjirapally. Dr. Bastian, who belongs to Poonjar, is now Professor, Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Kumarakom.

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