The coconut industry

Interviews and photos by Jonelle Fields and David Papannah

Last week, a coconut festival was held in Guyana to highlight the potential of the industry. This week we asked the man/woman in the street for their views on the industry.

claude-mcgarrellClaude McGarrell

‘The coconut industry is profitable but first a lot of work needs to be done. First you have to start from where it is right now, where you want it to be, and start with its challenges and try to solve those so you can get the coconut industry like what is obtained from other countries in the world. The future for Guyana will be fantastic with this industry, since the coconut tree is such a versatile tree that, you can do so many things with it. If the investment comes in you can develop not only coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut water, so many different products. Which can mean more work for Guyanese, more revenues and it could take the economy right up to 20 percent in the GDP and that might go up to 30 percent for all we know. And it will remove the dependence on the two major industries of rice and sugar … so the potential for the coconut industry is great.’

racheal-alleyneRacheal Alleyne

`I believe that the coconut market has a future in Guyana. When producers create new and diversified products with the use of coconut I think that the average Guyanese will flock the markets.  Moreover when this coconut wave picks up and a liking is developed other countries both regional and international will want to tap into it and start a trade with Guyana. We will be able to export quality products, more products at that apart from rice, sugar and rum, and the returns will be much greater. With a new industry, such as the coconut industry and soon to be on stream, the petroleum industry Guyana will be a rich country.’

elton-mcraeElton McRae

‘The future of the coconut industry to my mind will depend on the direction government takes with the industry. Why I said based on the government’s response to the industry is because coconut, even though it occupies the number three position in terms of the land space as a crop in Guyana, over the years it has been neglected, so it all depends on government’s response to how they treat it because, if the government does not take a lead role in redeveloping the coconut industry then we cannot expect to see anything better. The future of the coconut can be bright but someone has to take the lead role in developing the technologies that are required in introducing new varieties apart from coconut oils.’

tracy-sanchoTracy Sancho

‘Yes, coconut will be a good plant to start planting. In Guyana coconuts ranks third next to rice and sugar as an important agriculture crop.  It has been contributing approximately 1% to the total gross domestic product of the country. I think in the next five years it will still be in the leagues of rice and sugar and the industry may be more profitable than rice and sugar.’

vilma-dasilvaVilma DaSilva

‘I was speaking at an opening ceremony when I said that I see a lot of millionaires for the coconut farmers because right now as we speak famers are experiencing up to $55 for a coconut, small farmers $40 and $55. As long as it is structured and it is protected and we have some government intervention to protect the smaller farmers I see it as a very good economic venture for Guyana. We can boost it in terms of adding value as I said we are looking at assistance from NAREI to come on board because it is like sixty something value added coming out of coconuts so why can it not be a blossoming industry?  It’s not like even rice alone that you can sell, you can add value, I see it as a great economic venture.’


`The coconut business is very profitable; I think in the next five or ten years it will be a massive business. Guyana has the potential to go into this business, being a Surinamese trader, if I compare this country with Suriname in the coconut industry, Guyana is ten steps further.’

d-somsinghD Somsingh

‘Well I’m based in Suriname and I have been in Guyana for a very long time and the country is a great opportunity to do business. Not only in production and in trade but why a great opportunity?  It is because the head of CARICOM is in Guyana, an English-speaking country and right now I am doing trading with CARICOM. So I am hoping to listen and discuss what the investors have. From a trading perspective Guyana has the potential to fulfill the coconut business, 200 percent Guyana can do it. It’s just that some people are very lazy and some do not want to work, if you put in the work you will gain. There is a future in the coconut industry because the CARICOM Head office is here.’

andre-desilvaAndre DeSilva

`The coconut industry has a potential; It will be a big deal in Guyana because since we grow a lot of coconuts and if we start using it to make all natural products and export them it will be great for Guyana. If the industry thrives, the returns, the revenue will be great for our country. The economy will be better and Guyana will become an industrious country. Apart from that more avenues will be opened for the youth, meaning jobs would be provided from the new industry. I mean my mom uses the coconut and she makes hair and face products.’

tamar-paulTamra Paul

‘The coconut industry has a lot of potential to thrive in Guyana. We have the land space unlike other Caribbean countries who are also trying to gain from their coconut business. Apart from that we have the capable people who can help the industry grow and blossom into a profitable venture. I also believe that with the launch of the coconut festival it has opened doors and made persons aware of the fact that so many products can be made from the plant and its nut and some of those products are made right here in Guyana.’

angelita-bentickAngelita Bentinck

‘The coconut industry in Guyana has tremendous potential. I am happy with the quality of products being produced locally by manufacturers. The labelling of these manufactured coconut products shows that investors are heading in the right direction because the products in my view are of international standards. Growing up, our parents and grandparents always told us the benefits of coconuts but we never worry with them. Imagine where the industry would have been today if we had listened. I do believe in a few years this industry will strive because of the attention it is receiving now.’

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