Home Letters Full throttle for the coconut industry – kudos to the agri sector
I started thinking when I read that a “$4.3M coconut nursery (was) commissioned at Hosororo.” After all, coconut is a ‘big deal.’ In fact, the coconut tree, in many places, is acknowledged as the ‘tree of life’, or ‘Kalpavriksha’, because of the endless products derived from its various parts, which contribute to people’s survival on earth.
Coconut is grown in more than 80 countries worldwide, but the truth is that the majority of the world’s inhabitants have not exploited its full benefits and potential. For example, the value-added products from coconut include coconut water, coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut meat, coconut milk, coconut desiccated powder, and coconut flour. So, Guyana will not miss out, thanks to the agriculture sector, which is quickly catching on in this area.
The details show that Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha commissioned a new coconut seedling nursery in Hosororo Village, Barima-Waini (Region One). Located in the compound of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), and constructed at a cost of $4.3 million, the nursery would be able to produce some 206,000 seedlings annually. What is nice about this facility is that farmers in the region would not have to travel to Georgetown to purchase quality seedlings. This translates to ‘ease’ in doing business in terms of cost and travel. Minister Mustapha also pointed out that the project constitutes part of Guyana’s coconut decentralisation programme.
Editor, I want to add to what Minister Mustapha said as regards the benefits of, and the growing demand for, coconuts and coconut by-products. He stated, “We all know the benefits of coconuts. The world is also cognisant of the benefits of coconuts and all of their many uses.” And he is so right. As far as I have read, in terms of coconut oil alone, it is the most favoured opportunity from the coconut tree. It is the healthiest oil available for human consumption, and the best means of reaping all the health benefits of the coconut. It solves many health-related issues within and outside of the body. Coconut oil also helps people lose body fat, get leaner, and improve their cholesterol levels, hair quality, and strength.
The Minister’s list mentions the following: coconut fibre, oils, soaps, lotions, beauty supplies, pharmaceuticals, and cooking products. Since Guyana is blessed with fertility and adequacy of land, I see no reason why its coconut industry would not flourish. I mean, the Government is fully pushing for stability and expansion. In terms of the universally loved coconut water, it is ubiquitous, and my hope is that, here in Guyana, bottled coconut water would outsell all other forms of beverage, many of which are not even close to the health benefits of coconut water.
Going beyond the local scene, I am glad that the Minister gave assurance to our farmers that “…access to markets will now be a thing of the past…as the Government is currently engaging the CARICOM Member States to remove the non-tariff barriers to many of Guyana’s traditional products.” This is great, as the demand for coconut is constantly increasing in the region and globally, and “Guyana is among three of the major coconut-producing countries in the region, producing some 20 per cent of the region’s demand, while the Dominican Republic produces some 59 per cent, and Jamaica some 12 per cent.”
To close my little missive, I shift my attention to the coconut flour, since regular wheat is not that healthy, and many are moving away from it. The coconut flour is grain and gluten-free flour, which is essentially dried coconut meat in powdered form. It packs a whopping 5 grams of fibre per 2 tablespoons, and lowers the glycemic index in baked goods (which is a plus for those with diabetes). Coconut flour is an excellent choice for those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergies. The product is made completely of pure coconut. The milk must be separated from the meat in order to produce the dry flour. Once the separation is complete, the meat is baked at a low temperature to dry it out, and creates a powdery flour made entirely of coconut. Amen! We cannot go wrong in investing in the coconut industry.