Efforts are underway to revive the local coconut industry, which has huge potential for growth despite the challenges facing it.
At the launch of a training programme to resuscitate the industry at Guyana School of Agriculture yesterday, several speakers, including head of the National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (NAREI) Dr. Oudho Homenauth, stressed the importance of the industry, which has had its up and downs over the years.
Dr. Homenauth spoke of the emphasis that has been placed on the coconut industry by the Ministry of Agriculture and by extension the Government of Guyana over the past two years. He explained that coconut is the third largest generator of income for the agricultural sector, with international demands for both the coconut and its by-products increasing every day. He further noted that coconut palms are occupants of a large quantity of agricultural lands in Guyana and he urged members of the audience to see coconut as more of an industry rather than as a single commodity.
The three-day programme, which is a result of the bilateral cooperation between the governments of Guyana and Mexico in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), is being hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture.
articipants include extension officers as well as persons who are already involved in the coconut industry and those who have showed significant interest in the industry, and topics to be areas to be addressed range from harvesting of coconuts to hybridisation techniques and coconut products and their uses.
The importance of the coconut industry was also stressed by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture George Jarvis. “The quantity of uses currently being demonstrated by coconut just touches a fraction of what we can achieve,” he said.
“It is therefore an exciting time for coconuts,” he added, after referring to the potential that lies within the coconut industry.
Jarvis stated that although coconut palms occupy a significant amount of agricultural lands in Guyana, he does not believe that enough emphasis is being placed on the importance of coconuts as an industry. Jarvis even went as far as to say that coconuts should be given the same attention and care that is given to rice and sugar. Towards this end, he made it clear that NAREI is prepared to lend whatever technical support to those persons who may need it as he expressed appreciation to Sterling Products as well as residents of the Pomeroon for their efforts and the latter for their recent surge of interest in the coconut industry. “Let us ensure that we recognise that coconut has been with us in the good times and will be with us in the bad times as it is something that ensures that food security is with us,” Jarvis added.
Wilmot Garnett, IICA representative in Guyana, also spoke and highlighted some of the problems affecting the industry. These include but are not limited to poor drainage, access to certified planting material, cost of production, inadequate crop management processes, and lack of proper nutrient management, manufacturing and processing facilities. However, despite these issues, Garnett encouraged persons to actively take part in the training programme so as to continue making agriculture the vehicle for sustainable social productivity.