© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

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Coconut Pickers

This is a specialised and caste related occupation. Coconut pickers shin up very tall trees and then with a machete cut out the ripened coconuts. At the same time they cut down the old fronds which can then be woven into “sheets” of coconut thatch. They are paid at a fixed price for each tree they climb and then take 4-6 coconuts of their choice as part of the fee. These they either sell or use at home. This is a skilled and dangerous occupation and in many areas there is a shortage of younger pickers as children follow alternative less dangerous occupations. Some owners of coconut groves have constructed rope walkways so that pickers can move from tree to tree but there is still a long way to fall!

To counteract the shortage of pickers, shorter trees are being bred that can he harvested from the ground.

Typically, the picker will arrive on his bicycle. He then wears a loin cloth or shorts and old shirt, and wraps doubled over coconut rope to join his separated feet, to shin up the trunk. He has a sharp machete attached to his waist. When he reaches the fronds, he cuts out and drops the fronds and the ripened coconuts. Falling from a great height is not the only danger a picker faces, he must be on the alert for snakes, scorpions, millipedes and other poisonous insects.

While the fronds and coconuts are being dropped the owners stand well back until the harvesting has been completed. They then gather the coconuts into piles to await collection by the coconut merchant.

You Tube video link:

Fresh Garden Coconuts - Picking & Preparing Fresh Coconut from Premlanka Hotel Gardens