Guyana has been promoting the coconut sector as an industry to capture the array of products including coconut water, virgin coconut oil, activated carbon and crafts that could be competitively produced.
This was related by Dr. Oudho Homenauth, Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (NAREI), during a recent interview with the Government Information Agency at his Mon Repos Office, East Coast Demerara.
According to Dr. Homenauth, coconut has been the main non-traditional export for Guyana for the past few years, generating an annual income of US$4.5M. The exports have been dominated by products containing minimal value addition.
“In terms of export value, de-husked coconuts account for 70 percent, followed by copra (15 percent), crude coconut oil (nine percent) and coconut water (two percent),” he said.
NAREI is actively involved in facilitating the expansion of the coconut industry, which has great potential. He noted that Extension Officers are constantly in contact with farmers to ensure good agronomic practices, effective management of pests and diseases, and access to planting materials.
He added that an important task of NAREI is to ensure productivity to satisfy the demands of agro-processors. Currently there are approximately 1,470 coconut farmers in Guyana. Some farmers, especially those operating in the Pomeroon, Region Two have been making significant investments, hence increasing productivity.
There are seven main local manufacturers/ agro-processors who utilize the by-products of coconut. While, they may focus on one or two specific by-products of coconuts each part of the coconut could be utilized. There are other untapped value added commodities which need to be explored.
According to Dr. Homenauth, “The negatives associated with coconut have now been debunked. In fact, from a recent report I have seen, coconut has 127 uses… These include uses for personal hygiene and the body, general health and wellness, internal health problems, topical health problem, pets/ animals, etc.”