Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) scientists are presently in Guyana networking with stakeholders involved in the European Union (EU)-financed four-year “Coconut Industry Development for the Caribbean” project.
A release from the institute stated that it had been commissioned by the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC) to implement the project in Guyana and eight other CARIFORUM countries. The other countries being targetted are Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
The release said the scientists will be involved in mapping and classifying local coconut plantations; strengthening producer and processing groups; and developing applicable technological packages for the intercropping of fruits and vegetables and rearing of cattle or small ruminants under coconut trees.
Pertinent information gathered at the various stages of the coconut industry’s value chain will be stored in a database currently being developed at CARDI headquarters in Trinidad. The project aims to improve coconut production by boosting the competitiveness of small-scale farmers, pinpointing market opportunities, creating teamwork between national and regional programmes and improving access to advisory services.
During the project, farmers, technicians, extension agents, processors, marketers, and other investors will be instructed in various coconut production and processing technologies. Future goals will target policy directives, certified quality planting material, nursery development, good agricultural practices, integrated pest management, processing for value-addition, marketing, finance and business development, quality assurance and risk mitigation.
The coconut is currently one of the country’s key non-traditional crops, with the industry ranking third behind rice and sugar as a priority agricultural crop. However, the main production areas are currently grappling with a Red Palm Mite infestation, which has affected production.