By Shania Gonsalves
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – Guyana’s rapidly growing coconut industry is fueled by many advantages such as vast farm lands, favourable climate, human resources and the government’s investments into the industry, which have led to a number of farmers resorting to large-scale coconut production.
During a recent interview, minister of agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P, said the country’s coconut production has been sufficient for both local and export purposes. He revealed that approximately $2.5 billion was earned in export over the last year.
While most of Guyana’s coconut products were previously imported, the country has now placed on the front burner, the production of these products, thus reducing the food import bill as well as bringing in income.
“The entire region is looking at coconut as an important crop for the Caribbean because in the ministerial task force that was created by CARICOM, we prioritise (it) as a commodity that we want to increase production for because coconut today, is becoming very lucrative, and we in Guyana here are looking forward to develop our coconut industry.”
The minister further stated that the ministry has been working to develop coconut nurseries, and decentralise the production of coconut seedlings across the country.
He said farmers can now purchase seedlings at nurseries already established in Regions Two, Four, Five and Six. This year, the initiative will be expanded to have nurseries in Regions One and Nine to allow farmers to have better access to coconut plants while also boosting their production.
“We are looking at a projected figure this year, about 55, 000 coconut seedlings to develop, so that we can produce that for Guyanese farmers so that they can have enough plants [and] at the end of this year we will be building seven new nurseries across the country.”
Additionally, the government is currently working with private investors to develop their plantations. This has seen a number of infrastructural works undertaken in Region Two.
Also, close to $60 million in capital works will be executed to enhance the Hope coconut estate and build new nurseries across the country.
“I intend as minister of agriculture before this five-year or my term is up, to have at least two nurseries in each region of this country so that we can have the farmers in those regions have the same kind of facilities like the farmers in Region Four.”
Meanwhile, Guyana being a member of the International Coconut Community will be collaborating with other coconut producing countries around the world to develop “best practices” to boost the local coconut industry.