British investor bets big on local coconut industry

-rehabilitating 1,000 acre Pomeroon River estate

Betting on the future of Guyana’s coconut industry, a British businessman and his partners have invested in a 1,000-acre estate in the Pomeroon River.

According to the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Duncan Turnbull aims to use technology to improve the value chain and transform the Guyanese coconut industry. His company, Pomeroon Trading Inc., is currently rehabilitating the estate, where it is planting 5,000 trees every month and experimenting with innovative intercropping techniques.

Turnbull said that the company has secured sizeable investment from Europe to channel into the local industry. “We’ll be setting up a project to train more women to join the workforce and partnering with local schools on an education project,” he was quoted as saying in a NAREI press release that was issued yesterday on the project.

An aerial view of the 1,000 acre coconut estate in the Pomeroon River (NAREI photo)

Turnbull further noted that the estate is building a coconut seedling nursery, which will produce a consistent supply of high-quality seedlings, thereby tackling one of the most severe challenges faced by the local coconut industry. “Existing estates are often ageing and unproductive,” he said, while noting that without the right planting materials, the industry cannot be revitalised.

He noted that the global coconut industry is at a critical juncture, with a rising demand for the commodity due to increased awareness of its health benefits and stagnant supply from the established exporters.

Meanwhile, the release noted that NAREI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Oudho Homenauth was more than happy to welcome the investors to Guyana, since it will boost the coconut industry.

He said NAREI has been promoting the local coconut industry and encouraging persons to invest in advanced operations.

It was noted that a lot of promotional activities were done at the Coconut Festival held in October last year.

“I met with these guys when they just took over The Stoll estate from the family. The 1,000 acres, which is very significant for the Pomeroon, was operating under capacity. It used to be flourishing but with the decline of the industry years ago, it became semi-abandoned,” Homenauth explained.

He indicated that Turnbull and his partners started in the right way. “They are rehabilitating the current estate as well as doing some replanting. It’s an investment we welcome. I believe they will help the estate reach its true potential,” he added.

NAREI, the release said, will be assisting the company in selecting the planting materials that are more suitable for the Pomeroon area and providing training to its 30 workers.

“Our nursery at Charity will be supplying them with planting materials and partnering with them on pioneering new intercrops that, to date, have not achieved scale in Guyana. The company is looking at crops that will have market value both locally and internationally,” Homenauth said, while calling Pomeroon Trading Inc. “very progressive.”

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