The coconut industry continues to grow, moving from its infancy to one where a number of young men have set up viable operations.

BUSINESS MONDAY -Big business

Agriculture Ministry seeking to enhance coconut industry

BARBADOS has the potential to expand its coconut industry and turn it into a thriving agri -business operation.

This is the view of Ms. Ena Harvey, the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Representative in Barbados.

She said that the industry continues to grow, moving from its infancy to one where a number of young men have set up viable operations.

Ms. Harvey told Business Monday that every day there is a new coconut vendor in Barbados, something which is worthy of note. She pointed out that the ones actively engaged are young men who are selling coconut water, which is now a big business.

She said that to generate more interest the Ministry of Agriculture in Barbados has taken steps to enhance the sector. The IICA official pointed out that having recognised its importance to the economy, Government is moving to create more value.

Ms Harvey noted that Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda are included in a seven-nation project, managed by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)
and funded by the International Trade Cooperation out of Geneva (Switzerland). That programme has so far come up with a roadmap for coconut development.

“So over the last few months the Ministry of Agriculture (in Barbados) has been working to look at bringing in clean tissue cultured material, and plants to improve our production of coconuts,” the IICA official said. “Better varieties, higher yielding varieties to improve our production of coconuts, to produce not only coconuts for drinking but also dried coconuts for baking,” she explained.

There is the potential to make a whole new set of products which other countries are doing using the coconut.

Ms. Harvey added that the industry has reached such enormous proportions globally that Rihanna, the Barbadian songbird, is now promoting Brazilian coconut water. Harvey suggested that there is now a big struggle between Coca Cola and Diageo for the coconut water market.

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