Bolstering the competitiveness of Caribbean coconut industry (en)
Representatives of the coconut industry from across the Caribbean are meeting today in Georgetown, Guyana, to discuss market opportunities for coconut products and share national strategies on how to develop the coconut sector.
This two-day technical meeting is part of the ongoing project ‘Coconut Industry Development for the Caribbean’, financed by the European Union. The project aims to enhance the competitiveness of small-scale coconut farmers and processors by identifying market opportunities and improving access to advisory services for improved production. The project is being implemented by the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
Attending the regional consultation is a broad range of both public and private stakeholders working in the coconut sector. This includes farmers, processors and government agencies from all nine countries in the Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM).
The coconut industry is targeted because of the growing opportunities in regional and global markets for a range of coconut products. The global market for coconut water alone is predicted to reach US$ 4 billion by 2019. The diverse market opportunities will be a key area of discussion for industry stakeholders who are keen to capitalize on growing opportunities for value-added coconut products.
According to value chain expert Ajmal Abdulsamad from the Centre of Governance, Globalization and Competitiveness, demand for coconut products across the region is increasing significantly. Despite a general decline of intra-regional trade over the last decade, regional trade for coconuts and coconut products has grown 230% since 2008, he added.
To better organize the coconut sector in each country to realize this market potential, national stakeholder platforms (NSP) were established last year as part of the project. These platforms aim to represent the interests of the coconut sector, facilitate improved communication and coordination between stakeholders, and guide development and implementation of the national coconut sector development strategies.
Raymond Trotz, owner of Phoenix Enterprises Guyana and chairman of Guyana’s NSP, said, ‘The NSP of Guyana is developing a programme of value-chain alliances that addresses the wide range of needs of the coconut sector around the priorities defined by the industry and based on a market-led global value chain analysis.’
This consultation offers an opportunity for representatives of each platform to present, discuss and clarify the details of their respective national strategies, including concrete activities that will be implemented.
The delegates are discussing ways the Caribbean can make the most out of these market opportunities. The industry experienced a period of decline over the past four decades, which resulted in a lack of investment in plantation rejuvenation, enterprise development and support services. Small-scale coconut producers, processing enterprises and support services in Caribbean countries require assistance to realize market opportunities by revitalizing performance, promoting innovation, improving profitability and complying with international standards.
The national strategies that have been developed by stakeholders in each country have been an important step forward to structure this support. Stakeholders across the coconut value chain participated in identifying the key challenges that face the industry and developed a holistic plan of support activities to improve production levels, revitalize the industry and coordinate policymaking.
This consultation represents an opportunity for delegates across the countries to exchange views, collaborate and identify issues that can be addressed at the regional level, so that the coconut industry can once again become a thriving subsector in the Caribbean.