Challenged, it seems, by a local, regional and international increase in demand for coconut and coconut products, the Ministry of Tourism has announced that it will hold the country’s inaugural Coconut Festival from October 16 to 23, 2016.
Director of Tourism Donald Sinclair told the Stabroek Business earlier this week that the event which will be staged in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture is expected to attract local stakeholder interest as well as overseas private sector participation. Sinclair said the heightened global interest in coconut, coconut water and other byproducts had inevitably led in the direction of raising awareness of the coconut and the coconut value chain.
Guyana enjoys a limited trade in coconuts with the region, primarily the Dominican Republic. Local entrepreneurs also export coconut water to other territories in the region, chiefly Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally, the country boasts a modest but growing coconut oil industry with product reportedly enjoying good sales in the Caribbean and beyond. Sinclair told Stabroek Business that Guyana was now seeking to take its coconut industry “to the next level.” The October event, he said, will also seek to develop an agro tourism portfolio equipped to play a focal role in advancing the regional programme for coconut development.
Sinclair said Coconut Awareness Week was “a national event with regional implications.” October 16, World Food Day, will also be used to launch a Caribbean
Coconut Regional Development Programme. The overall event will comprise presentations, seminars, exhibitions, demonstrations, fashions displays, games, all related to promoting the coconut product.
Earlier this year, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in 2016 established the Caribbean Coconut Regional Development Programme with the participation of nine Caribbean countries, Guyana, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, St Lucia, Dominican Republic, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
According to the International Trade Centre website the thriving international demand for coconut water and its byproducts represents an important opening for the Caribbean which can improve economic development and poverty reduction.
The other major coconut growers in the region are expected to play a pivotal role in the events to mark Coconut Awareness Week.