New investments in coconut industry

As Guyana seeks to evolve in the expansion of its coconut industry, another major investor is seeking to invest US$8 million in the Pomeroon area, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).
The coconut industry is one which could be a money-spinner for the country. Already, coconut is the third major crop cultivated in Guyana, after rice and sugar cane. This industry can be one which could produce scores of by-products, for which there is demand for export as well as local use. As it stands, according to the British investor of the Pomeroon project, Duncan Turnbull, the company currently cultivates the three-year dwarf variety primarily for the production of coconut water. The company is also involved in inter-cropping, with crops like passion fruit, bananas, turmeric, and ginger under cultivation.
What is noteworthy is that the investor said a relationship has been established with farmers from the Pomeroon. This is the kind of collaboration Guyana needs, wherein local farmers are able to benefit from large projects.
It was only last year that Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha made a welcoming announcement that Guyana would soon join the membership of the International Coconut Community (ICC) as Government advances plans to increase cultivation of this crop countrywide.

The coconut and its by-products are now in growing demand worldwide.
Coconut oil, which once used to be wrongly labelled as high-cholesterol, is now regarded as among the best cooking oils, many consumers preferring it to olive and canola oils.
Most of the old coconut-growing families who had large estates have gone out of business. In the Pomeroon area, for instance, there are only a few producers left. As a matter of fact, one of the largest producers in Laluni. Haresh Tewari, only on Wednesday, reminded that the industry can provide employment for the residents of the community. This particular farmer has plans to cultivate one million coconut trees.
The economic advantages of the industry should be widely disseminated, as the numerous profitable by-products which could easily be produced should be made known to the public, and the available markets should also be made known to producers.
It could be recalled that a coconut expert from India, Dr Shivarama Reddy, had come to Guyana some years ago to work with NAREI and local farmers to examine ways in which the coconut industry could be revitalised, and to look at possible markets for the product. Also, a position paper by NAREI had outlined three main areas of intervention to aid in the coconut industry: increasing the productivity and production potential of the sector; assessing the state of Guyana’s coconut oil industry and its future, and considering possible support mechanisms; and exploring other coconut-derived products in terms of their value-added and export potential. Nonetheless, over the years, the industry seemed to have contracted. Coconut oil, to a great extent, has been largely replaced by foreign imports. Dried coconuts are still exported, but in much lesser quantities than formerly.
Today, a great part of coconut production is used to provide coconut water. One local producer exports the commodity to Trinidad for canning. The cans carry no reference to the Guyanese origin of their contents. An infrastructure of international packaging standards already exists in Guyana. There is, for instance, the Beharry Group, which has put on the local and export markets a number of products with world class packaging.
The coconut industry could become highly profitable within the next three or four years. This can be achieved if suitable lands are leased to prospective farmers, and intensive agricultural extension services are provided, as well as soft loans and marketing exploration.
The Agriculture Ministry and the Lands and Surveys Commission, with the help of experts, should be able to locate good coconut-growing lands and advertise for suitable takers. Unlike in the past, when there were talks of the massive production, giving optimistic hopes propagated to the public but never materialised, it is time that serious effort be expended in reviving the industry. This industry has very huge potential for expansion and development, especially as it relates to processing and value-added products. Guyana could tremendously increase its earnings from exports in this industry.