Value-added products being explored for coconut industry
The Head of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) is of the view that the coconut can be consumed in a variety of ways apart from coconut water, milk, oil and flakes — all ways of which Guyanese are already familiar.Chief Executive Officer of NAREI, Dr Oudho Homenauth, has told the Regional Democratic Councillors (RDC) of Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) that the budding coconut industry can be a major contributor to economic development of the region through the development of more coconut-based products; because, as he highlighted, every part of the coconut can be used for one purpose or another.He explained that even as NAREI continues to carry out research exercises on the coconut, it has been found that even the coconut coir dust can be used as aChief Executive Officer of NAREI, Dr Oudho Homenauthpotting mixture for better germination of coconut seeds.Coconut coir dust — also known as coco peat, coir waste, or fibre dust — consists of short, spongy fibres and dust which are the by-product in the processing of husk to coir fibre.“We have been talking to investors about utilising every part of the coconut. We have persons right now doing it on a small scale, utilising that part of the coconut as a soil enhancer. We have started to do work on it — the dust, as you call it – (using) it as a potting mixture. What we found is that germinating coconut seeds using that potting mixture (could get you) 100% germination,” Dr Homenauth is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying.“We are looking at coconuts as more of an industry, and not just a commodity, a single commodity,” he added. In this regard, Dr Homenauth disclosed, NAREI is encouraging farmers to also consider intercropping.Intercropping is the companion planting method of growing one crop alongside another crop. The purpose of intercropping is to increase yields by doubling up on available growing space. Intercropping creates biodiversity, which attracts a variety of beneficial and predatory insects; which isn’t possible with monoculture gardening.Intercropping is recommended to farmers now entering the coconut industry. According to Dr. Homenauth, it can take as little as approximately eighteen months for the coconut to germinate, grow, develop, and be ready for harvesting.“Coconuts take about 18 months to a maximum of three years before you can get any returns from investing in coconuts. That is why we are looking at intercropping throughout the country,” he explained.He further noted that before going into the coconut industry, farmers should at least have an identified market. This would determine the scale at which they farm coconuts. They should also consider diversifying the product line of coconuts, he advised. “We are also looking at value-addition. We know about the virgin coconut oil, we know about some very nice coconut water and some other things that they are doing, and now they are having extra virgin coconut oil,” he declared.