Letter: Time to cash in on the coconut industry


Dear Editor,

There’s no doubt about it: the coconut culture runs deep across the Caribbean and South America. From coconut water to coconut milk, and from coconut cream to other by-products, even the husk is put to good use in making craft items, or for household purposes.

Its importance is the reason for a collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of St Lucia in developing the Coconut Value Chain.

Here, in Guyana, I think we are beginning to ‘get the drift’, and I am quite pleased that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government recently distributed some high-yield coconut plants to Pomeroon farmers. This means a major boost to the coconut industry in the Pomeroon River area of Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha actually announced that Government would make available some 3000 high-yield coconut plants to local farmers. In the opening phase of this distribution, over 120 farmers each received 25 Brazilian Green Dwarf coconut plants, forming part of a larger project. And as we recall, the distribution is really a follow-up on a commitment made six months ago with the aim of improving the quality and yield of coconuts in the Pomeroon area.

What we really need to grasp is that coconut is not just about a nice way to slake our thirst. In terms of commerce, the global coconut industry was worth a staggering $4,512 million in 2023 ($4.5B+), and is set to top $31 billion by 2026. The industry has seen a huge rate of growth, with growing demand from countries like the USA, UK, Germany and other European countries seeking coconut products from tropical climes; which means potential for the local industry, more so as the industry is expected to grow at a remarkable rate each year.

A huge plus is that coconut farming is not only highly lucrative and quite thriving in many countries, especially in Asia, Africa, and Europe; but overall, coconut plantations are actually good for local ecosystems. For example, they can stabilise the soil. Importantly, coconuts are vegan, and there is no harm to animals.

Guyana has the land space, and the soil and weather are quite accommodating, so this thrust from the Government is something to really capitalise on.

During the plant distribution exercise, Minister Mustapha carefully highlighted that the Brazilian Green Dwarf variety is the way to go, as it would produce approximately 240 coconuts per tree annually. This represents a significant increase from Guyana’s current 160 coconuts per tree. Adding more value to the actual numbers, the said variety produces a much higher water content, around 700-750ml, compared to the 300-350ml from local varieties.

This kind of proliferation in the numbers of nuts and quantity of water lends impetus to realising the dream of the sector, which is “…not only to enhance coconut production, but to revitalize the entire coconut industry in Guyana… (according to the Agri Minister). “This sector has the potential to be highly lucrative, and we have the potential to supply markets throughout the Caribbean,” the minister has said.

No wonder Mustapha, via his Ministry, has already imported over 60,000 high-yield coconuts from Brazil, and there are plans to import another 40,000 from Mexico. This is big, and such a large-scale investment means that the designated 6000 acres for coconut farming would be maximized.

Yours truly,
HB Singh