Brazilian dwarf coconut seeds: Third high-yielding batch unveiled
(From left in grey), CARDI representative, Jhaman Kundun; Chief Executive Officer of NAREI, Jagnarine Singh; manager of Hope Estate, Ricky Roopchand (white cap); the Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha; and the Chairman of Hope Estate, Rabindranath Persaud, with employees of Hope Estate along with some farmers
(From left in grey), CARDI representative, Jhaman Kundun; Chief Executive Officer of NAREI, Jagnarine Singh; manager of Hope Estate, Ricky Roopchand (white cap); the Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha; and the Chairman of Hope Estate, Rabindranath Persaud, with employees of Hope Estate along with some farmers

Guyana aims to double coconut production by 2025

THE Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, on Wednesday, unveiled the third set of Brazilian high-yielding Green Dwarf Coconut Seeds.
The 40-foot container, which consisted of 13,000 seed nuts, arrived in Guyana from Brazil and was received by the manager of Hope Estate, Rick Roopchand, last weekend.
The Agriculture Minister led a team comprised of the Manager of Hope Estate, Ricky Roopchand, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Jagnarine Singh, a representative from the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Jhaman Kundun, and the Chairman of Hope Estate, Rabindranath Persaud.

Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle, Minister Mustapha said that the $12M intervention is a component of Hope Estate’s capital programme for 2023, which he said also falls within the Ministry of Agriculture’s (MOA) initiative to develop Guyana’s coconut sector.
According to the Minister, the new variety of coconut was introduced last December with a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union (EU), along with the help of CARDI.

Minister Mustapha said, “Last December, we would have received 2000 of this special Green Dwarf from Brazil, but, at that time, I said that we would look at the possibility of bringing some more high-value crops like these coconuts to our country this year. In our budget plan, we had airmarked $12M for the purchase of these nuts.”
The Minister continued, “Today I am very pleased that we have received 13,000 of the Green Dwarf high-value coconut from Brazil. With the 2000 that we would have received last year, we would have had 24 farmers, and we intend to increase the variety around the country. This will help us tremendously; we will roll out this programme in all the regions across the country. We will engage between 275 and 300 farmers who will benefit and help us increase the variety by multiplying it so that we can create a coconut industry in our country. So far, we have also seen a number of new farmers that are coming on board to join the industry, and that makes us happy.”

In terms of exports, Minister Mustapha said coconut is the third highest revenue earner. The minister added that Guyana’s government intends to make the coconut sector a “major industry” for the country.
Mustapha further stated that, on his last visit to India, he met with some specialists there, and they would be coming to Guyana “shortly” to help develop the coconut industry. The minister also reminded the public that when he became the Minister of Agriculture in 2020, he promised to put a lot of effort and emphasis on the coconut industry.

He continued, “At that time, I projected to increase coconut by a thousand acres annually; however, today I am pleased that to date, in less than three years in government, we have seen over five thousand acres of increase. That figure shows a tremendous improvement in our industry.”
The government and minister hope that, by the end of 2025, they can double the amount and take it to roughly 10,000 acres, increasing to almost 2,000 acres annually.

According to the Minister, Hope Coconut Estate and NAREI have been working towards locating land around the country. He also explained that they had a “policy direction” from the Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, to focus more on the riverbanks. This, according to the minister, will act for the dual purpose of developing the areas with the planting of coconuts as well as stopping erosion.

The Minister noted that thus far, he has received a report from the manager of Hope Estate, Ricky Roopchand, which he will discuss with Dr Jagdeo. He also hopes that when the Indian specialists are in the country, they will visit the suggested places.

Finally, Minister Mustapha said, “I know for a fact that His Excellency President Irfan Ali is taking the lead on agriculture in CARICOM. Guyana is moving this process forward, and this is only part of the area. The other areas are in the new and high-value crops, such as corn and soya, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh-cut roses, and a number of other crops.

We have also seen an increase in traditional crops, and I am very pleased that Guysuco has reached its target for the first time in the last five years. This is a good sign, and I want to reiterate that when I said that in the national assembly in the budget debate, I said that the factory at Rose Hall will be reopened. I am very pleased that we are on target, and hopefully before the commencement of the second crop, Rose Hall will be in operation and we will have more grinding factors so that we can make the target at the end of this year of 60,000 tons.”

While there, the minister had a light moment with some eager and excited pupils of the Hope Estate Primary School. Minister Mustapha encouraged them to listen to their teachers and take their work seriously so that they could one day become the Minister of Agriculture.

He also spoke on the importance of the coconut fiber machine and how it will positively impact agriculture and the environment across Guyana. In addition to the one at the Hope Estate, two more are on their way to Guyana.

The general manager, Ricky Roopchand, told this publication that “this 3-year variety has the potential to produce between 250 and 300 nuts per plant per year. As a result, it is ranked as a high-yielding variety. There will be a programme that we will implement, and it will be closely monitored by Hope Estate and NAREI. It should also be noted that over the past two years, Guyana’s coconut industry has expanded, and this trend is expected to continue as more farmers get on board with the cultivation of coconuts.”

 

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