The Ministry of Agriculture’s Hope Coconut Industries Limited, in collaboration with the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), on Wednesday hosted an exercise to launch the introduction of the Brazilian Green Dwarf coconut variety in Guyana.
The first shipment comprising 1,000 seed nuts arrived in Guyana from Brazil last October paving the way for intensive research and product development intended to become a game changer for the local coconut industry.
The Brazilian Green Dwarf variety is best known for its high-yielding properties, as well as its high tolerance to attacks from common pests and diseases that usually affect other varieties of coconuts. Its most outstanding characteristic, however, is its ability to produce a higher volume of water than other varieties commonly grown in Guyana. This variety is also said to produce water that has a very high sucrose level, making it sweeter than other varieties.
While speaking at the exercise, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha said coconut is one of the priority commodities that has been identified for increased production.
“Approximately $1.5 billion was earned from the export of coconut and coconut products during the period January to September 2022. As CARICOM seeks to reduce the food import bill by 25% by 2025, with Guyana having the lead responsibility of agriculture in the region, coconut is one of the priority commodities that has been identified for increased production. A large portion of the coconut industry engages in the primary processing of coconut. We are working with our private sector counterpart to produce more value-added products,” he noted.
The Minister also said, with the international coconut industry anticipating tremendous growth by 2026, it was critical for Guyana to ensure it was in a place to tap into that market.
“Internationally, the coconut industry is expected to be a USD 30 Billion industry by 2026, therefore it is important for us to set the stage to tap into this market. We will be working to develop industries utilizing four popular bi-products of coconut which include the husk, shell, meat, and water. This is why the ministry has been working to develop coconut nurseries and decentralize the production of coconut seedlings across the country. Through close collaboration with CARDI, Hope Estate was able to development of one of its first coconut nurseries under the National Coconut Decentralization Programme. This intervention has seen further expansions over the past two years. This has led to Guyana becoming one of the leading producers of coconut seedlings in CARICOM,” he added.
General Manager of Hope Industries Limited, Ricky Roopchand while offering remarks said that the introduction of this variety was conceptualised following discussions held during the inaugural Agri-Investment Forum and Expo which was held in Guyana last May. He further stated that, through support from the government, and CARDI, Hope Estate was able to improve its seedling production capacity tremendously over the last two years.
“Over the last two years with the government’s support, we’ve expanded the local coconut industry in terms of seedling production. We now have nine seedling nurseries across the country, with the tenth expected to be established soon in Lethem. If these nurseries are operated at full capacity. With the support of CARDI and the EU, by the end of the year, we would’ve acquired some 2,000 Brazilian Green Dwarf seed nuts that will be used for developing plantations across the ten administrative regions of Guyana,” he said.
European Union Ambassador to Guyana, H.E. Rene Van-Nes in his remarks said that the coconut sector will also play a role in Guyana’s Green Goal and presents a win-win situation for everyone involved.
“I’m really proud that the European Union is supporting Guyana and the Guyanese farmers to create better livelihoods for all the people involved in the production, processing, and distribution of coconuts and its by-products. The coconut sector in Guyana is contributing to the Green Goal, for example by inter-cropping, you really make sure that you have more biodiversity, you’ll need less pest control, and you’ll diversify the income from the land. This presents a win-win situation for all those involved,” Ambassador Van-Nes noted.
An additional shipment containing 1,000 seed nuts is expected to arrive in Guyana before the end of the year.
The introduction of the Brazilian Green Dwarf variety will result in the expansion of Guyana’s local genetic diversity adding to the government’s efforts to further develop its national coconut breeding programme which is expected to commence shortly.