NAREI, CARDI demonstrating opportunity to transform coconut ‘waste’ to cash
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, June 6, 2019
Through a multi-agency approach comprising the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the International Trade Centre local farmers, processors and other stakeholders are being exposed to the technology used to transform ‘waste’ to ‘cash.’
Coconut husks dumped in waterways, dumpsites and along parapets are actually raw materials with great economic and environmental values. Once processed, the husk could be transformed into coconut fibre/coir or cocopeat, which are used in different industries.
Dr. Oudho Homenauth, Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), during a recent interview with this publication, enlightened that a coconut shredder was acquired through the just-concluded European Union funded Regional coconut development initiative.
“The green agenda has been set… We want to make use of coconut ‘waste’… A considerable amount of raw material is generated from the dry coconuts and water nuts… And, we see how indiscriminately coconut husks are thrown into the Pomeroon River, which is actually problematic for boats traversing there,” Dr. Homenauth highlighted.
Against this backdrop, the institute has been conducting research on the utilisation of the by-products of coconut husk for agricultural purposes. By using the coconut shredder with the acquired technology, two by-products are generated: coconut coir and dust (when compressed forms cocopeat).
According to Dr. Homenauth, NAREI wants to promote coir as mulch for soils, especially on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, where the soil is predominately sandy and dry. While decomposition may take some time, the coir is an excellent soil enricher. The cocopeat is also a unique ingredient for potting mixtures. During a study conducted at the Hope Estate, it was discovered that cocopeat was excellent for vegetable seedling production as well as coconut germination.
“Cocopeat could be used by coconut farmers to germinate coconuts of course with a combination of soil and whatever else… Our research found that cocopeat used as potting media for coconut germination resulted in 100 per cent germination… The previous mixture of sand and paddy only saw 75percent of the coconuts germinating.”
The coconut shredder, which arrived in Guyana duty-free, costs about $1.3M (US$6,000) and has the capacity to process 1,000 nuts per day, says CARDI’s Country Representative, Dr. Cyril Roberts. The objective of having the shredder is to highlight the economic and environmental value of coconut husk.
He emphasised that the intention is to have persons or groups invest in similar shredders. Since the arrival of the equipment stakeholder in different areas such as Linden and Essequibo were given the opportunity to see how it is operated.
“CARDI, Coconut NSP and NAREI’s Extension Officers, Nunes and McAlmont, are collaborating to use the shredded coconut husk as mulch and compost in the West Coast Berbice… Also, CARDI, Coconut NSP and GLDA are collaborating to explore the use of the shredded coconut waste as a fibre source component in a ruminant byproduct feed blend,” Dr. Roberts said.