Holder unveils major plans to boost coconut production locally
By Devina Samaroo
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder has announced major plans for the development of the coconut industry, including the allocation of 5000 acres of lands within the next three years solely for coconut cultivation.
His announcement was made on day two of the national budget debates in the National Assembly on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, where he presented on the government’s plans for the agriculture sector. The announcement also comes two months after the Head of the Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) Agriculture Sub-Committee, Rajindra Persaud made a call during the Business Summit for more support to be offered to farmers to allow this lucrative industry to strive locally.
Minister Holder said, “the government has been actively pursuing the revitalization of the coconut industry through NAREI (National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute) and the Hope Coconut Estate.”
He explained that the Hope Estate was in ruins when the coalition administration assumed office but the operation is now flourishing.
“Today the estate readily provides coconut producers with adequate amounts of high-quality coconut seedlings at an affordable cost with a capacity to produce 50,000 coconut seedlings per year among other things,” Minister Holder said.
He said by 2018, the capacity should increase to 100,000 seedlings per year.
Additionally, he said some 5000 acres would be established over the next three years with an additional 1000 acres being rehabilitated in the Pomeroon.
“In this regard, the NAREI has been working very closely with estate owners to ensure that coconut production is maximized through improved agronomic practices as well as for the supply of planting material,” he stated.
Coconut is the leading nontraditional crop in Guyana. The Head of the Agriculture Sub Committee of the PSC had explained that the industry is confronted with a number of challenges including the shortage of lands which was preventing the sector from expanding.
The global demand for coconut has multiplied over the years, with large beverage companies buying over coconut farms. The demand is owed to the numerous health benefits and versatility of the crop.
Last year, Guyana hosted its first Coconut Festival with the aim of promoting the use of this fruit. The two major coconut products manufactured here are all natural coconut water and virgin coconut oil.