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Coconuts Anyone?
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Romi Saryadi has a job many teenagers can only dream of: Tree climbing!

The sixteen-year-old works at a coconut farm in Tanjong Pinang,

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a village on the island of Bintan in Indonesia, where about 500 coconut trees grow.

The coconuts have turned from green to brown, which means it's harvest time.

Just to make sure, Romi and his friend shake one tree. They don't hear any sound of water. It's definitely time to take the coconuts down.

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Who's scaling that coconut tree?
Harvesting coconuts is not an easy task, but the grooves (Romi calls them "holes") on the side of the tree make it easier to climb them.

"Without the holes on the side of the tree, climbing would be super tough," says Romi, in broken English.

It takes about one or two minutes to scale a tree. Once up there, Romi supports himself by clinging onto the branches with one hand and twisting off coconuts with another.

Three coconuts drop with loud thuds onto the ground.

"You first climb up the tree like a monkey, then you push onto a coconut and turn it," explains Romi. "The fun part is when you drop it."

Hard working people

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Click to see Romi's work space.


Once all of the coconuts have fallen to the ground, Romi and his friend pick them up and put them into wheelbarrows.

They wheel the coconuts to the back of the farm, and leave them in piles for a few days to dry out. The boys are now ready to de-husk them.

Many people in Tanjong Pinang work as hard as Romi. The main town on Bintan Island is, after all, a hub for trading and tourism.

The most common jobs here are on plantations (mostly rubber and coconut) and in resorts (adventure camps and hotels).

Right now, Romi gets paid 125,000 rupiah, or $11.80, a week to work on the farm. He is happy about that, but hopes that he will be able to work at a resort one day. He's heard that workers there earn much more.

"But first, I have to brush up my English," says Romi. He's working on it!

In the meantime, he still has to dehusk coconuts.

It takes Romi one day to de-husk 250 coconuts. That means it will take him a whole month to de-husk all the coconuts.

Indonesians use them to make coconut milk and cooking oil. They even use the shell of the coconut to make bowls.

"The coconut is the most useful crop in Bintan," says Romi, who usually stops working at 5:00 pm every day. "No part of it is wasted."Indonesians use the fiber from the coconut husks to make brooms.

These brooms are sold to hotels and resorts, as well as to housewives in the market nearby.

All that's left are the leaves and trunk of the cocount palm, which Indonesians use to construct walls, doors and roofs for their houses.

The sun is setting and it's time to go home...

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