By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Initiatives to revive the potentially profitable coconut sector in the Caribbean need a new approach including, establishment of networks, knowledge sharing and institutional capacity building participants at a workshop aiming at reviving the sector were told.
Director of the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Development Co-operation (CTA), Michael Hailu, said that his agency wants to partner with stakeholders in the Caribbean to ensure that the needs of the coconut industry are met. He therefore called for the sharing of experience and knowledge among coconut producers in Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean.
“We want to make sure that we respond to the needs of the ACP especially in the area of coconut growing,” he said at the opening of the workshop on “Coconut Industry Development for the Caribbean: Towards a Shared Vision and Road Map” at the 12th Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Guyana.
Stakeholders need to be actively involved in the discussions and initiatives which are being undertaken to develop a sustainable coconut industry in the Caribbean. Among other things to advance the sector it is critical, Hailu said, that specific low costing national and regional networks are established and followed-up by a medium term approach to put in place institutional mechanism to implement decisions.
According to Arlington Chesney, executive director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), scientists who in the past claimed that coconut oil were creating health issues for consumers caused the decline for the coconut sector in the Caribbean. Meanwhile those false claims have since been proven to be “totally untrue”, said the CARDI-official.
He further suggested that the Caribbean should develop its own plant material. Introduction of locally developed plant material could contribute to a revival of the sector while the region should seeks collaboration with India for harvesting technologies being used in that country, Chesney further noted.
Guyana’s minister of agriculture, Leslie Ramsammy, called for rehabilitation and replanting of the old coconut plantations with varieties that produce better yields, water and other products.
Ramsammy said, “If we are going to make this industry a robust industry, then we have to start with the infrastructure and the plantations.”