-some 250 to 300 farmers set to benefit
–coconut shredder also procured to push value-added
Guyana’s coconut industry is set to benefit from additional inputs as the Ministry of Agriculture’s Hope Coconut Industries Limited (HCIL) recently acquired a shipment of Brazilian Green Dwarf coconut seed nuts.
On Wednesday, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha visited Hope Coconut Industries Limited (HCIL), at Hope Estate on the East Coast of Demerara, to witness the arrival of and discharge of the latest batch of Brazilian Green Dwarf coconut seed nuts.
The shipment which contained 13,000 seed nuts valued at $12 million forms part of HCIL’s 2023 work plan and is in keeping with the government’s overall goal of expanding and further developing Guyana’s coconut industry.
While offering remarks, Minister Mustapha said that the high-yielding variety was first introduced last December and that some 275 to 300 farmers across the country will benefit from the seedlings produced from this batch.
“Last December, we introduced this variety through funding from a grant from the IDB and the EU with the help of CARDI. We received 2,000 seed nuts and I had indicated that we’d be looking at importing some more of this high-yielding variety this year. In our budget this year, $12 million was allocated to procure additional planting materials. With the previous batch we received, we were able to help 24 farmers and increase the coconut varieties around the country. We’ll continue those efforts and engage between 275 to 300 farmers who’ll benefit from seedlings so that we can further develop the industry and increase our export. When we look at the agriculture sector, coconut is the third highest revenue earner,” he explained.
Apart from acquiring additional planting materials, the minister also disclosed that the government has engaged specialists from India who are expected to come to Guyana to assist with further developing the industry.
“I recently traveled to India and engaged specialists who will be coming to Guyana soon to help us develop the industry. When I became Minister of Agriculture, I said we’d put a lot of emphasis on the coconut industry. I’d projected that we’d be able to increase coconut production by 1,000 acres annually. However, I’m pleased that, to date, in less than three years we’ve seen that coconut production has increased by over 5,000 acres which demonstrates a tremendous improvement,” he noted.
Minister Mustapha said with the support the government is giving the industry, it is expected that coconut production will exceed 10,000 acres.
HICL also recently procured the first of eight coconut shredders that will be used to shred waste materials such as coconut husk into coconut fiber that will be used for mulching and other agriculture-related purposes.
While speaking on the new equipment which was procured for approximately $3.8 million, Minister Mustapha noted that the coconut waste material has a value-added component that will now be utilised in coconut cultivation and other areas within the agriculture sector with the acquisition of the shredder.
“We are now starting value-added in the coconut sector. We have procured one of eight shredding machines so that we can use the husk. Usually, the shells are thrown away but there is a demand for it so we are going to be utilizing it. This will be replicated across the country, in places like the Pomeroon where there is a large coconut cultivation,” the minister said.