Minister Mustapha commissions $1.1M coconut nursery at Kairuni

Minister of Agriculture Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha commissioned a $1.1 million coconut nursery at Kairuni, Soesdyke-Linden Highway on Tuesday, as the Ministry advances plans to expand the sector.  

Once investments are made in the coconut industry, it can become an important foreign exchange earner for Guyana, he said. 

To this end, the Ministry plans to decentralise coconut facilities countrywide to provide farmers with the necessary support to expand the industry. 

“We are looking at the coconut industry not only to develop it, but coconut will play an important role in earning scarce foreign capital into our country. As the Ministry of Agriculture embarks on the expansion of our coconut industry, we are seeing interest being generated by individual groups across the country. I have already had meetings with various stakeholders, with various private farmers and they also have plans to develop their individual coconut plantation,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Kairuni nursery will provide ’18 months’ coconut plants to farmers. 

However, the Minister said farmers should also cultivate other varieties. 

“We can only use this for the water. I’m encouraging you that we must also look at the other parts of coconut in terms of the nut, in terms of oil production and copra.”

Provisions were made in the 2020 Emergency Budget for the nursery at Kairuni and another at Charity, which will be commissioned soon. However, the initiative will also be taken across the country. 

“Next year, we will go to Berbice and move nurseries to Berbice and move to different parts like the interior, Region Nine and other regions across the country so we can fully develop our coconut industry,” the Minister said. 

Minister Mustapha also advised farmers to practice intercropping, explaining that small coconut farmers will be given assistance through a programme, which will be developed through NAREI, to contain overgrowth.

“We can help put back your farm in proper shape so that you can continue the production of coconut,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Ricky Roopchand, General Manager of the Hope Estate said establishing a coconut nursery augers well for the continued development and expansion of the industry. 

“We realised that one of the major constraints of the coconut industry is the lack of access to adequate supply of good planting materials and this nursery will significantly help to address this issue,” he explained. 

With the new nursery, he said, farmers along the Soesdyke-Linden Highway and in Linden will now have easy access to high quality seedlings at an affordable cost.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jhaman Kundun, Country Representative for the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute said the institute has been working in Guyana for four years under a regional coconut project funded by the European Union.

“For any crop, you want the best planting material. Likewise, for coconuts and you can only get it in a nursery because there are simple, but yet still important, requirements and selection process you go through in getting your optimal plants,” he pointed out. 

He added: “The custom and practice is to plant a coconut tree and hope that it bears after three to five years but with this initiative, with this approach, you are eliminating that risk.”

The coconut industry is the third most lucrative locally, after the cultivation of rice and sugar with about 25,000 acres being cultivated. Those numbers are expected to increase with more investments in the industry.