Minister Singh: “T&T to benefit from the revitalisation of the coconut industry”
Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) stands to benefit substantially from the sustainable revitalization of the coconut industry; the products and by-products of which, have increased in demand and continue to attract a favorable price globally. So said the Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Avinash Singh, earlier today (Wednesday 1st June, 2022) in his address at a Coconut Sensitisation Workshop hosted by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF). The workshop, which addressed issues of Leathal Yellowing and improved integrated pest management methods for managing South American Palm Weevil, took place at the Sugarcane Feeds Centre in Longdenville, Chaguanas.
In quantifying the value of the global coconut water market size at USD 4.27 billion in 2019 with an expected annual growth rate of 16.1% from 2020 to 2027, Minister Singh noted that coconut production was one of the commodities targeted for development by the MALF. This, according to him, was particularly so, given the industry’s potential to contribute favourably to T&T’s Gross Domestic Product as well as its alignment with the increasing demands of a growing network of health conscious consumers.
He said that while coconut production signaled the main source of economic activity and development of rural communities along Trinidad’s east coast, the industry suffered a decline from the 1970s and 1980s due to the advent of pests and diseases (namely Cedros Wilt and Red Ring disease) as well as the thrust towards the use of soybean oil in favour of coconut oil. These factors no doubt contributed to under-cultivated fields, abandoned estates and aged plantations which left us essentially unprepared for any eventual / actual resurgence which would take place within the sector. “Since the 1990’s, the growth in demand for tender coconut water and other by-products of coconut, have been phenomenal, resulting in significant increases in price. Coconut by-products are now regarded as beneficial to human health and well-being with an increasing demand locally, regionally and internationally that now exceeds our current supply,” the Minister noted.
He added: “Over the past few years, people worldwide are increasingly adopting several healthy and nutritional drinks to maintain a healthy lifestyle and coconut water, is by far, the leading plant-based water available for sale.”
Minister Singh lauded today’s workshop as one more in a series of collaborative ventures involving CARDI which was aimed at rehabilitating coconut estates across the region and more so, assisting in the conceptualisation of a roadmap for the development of the coconut sector in Trinidad and Tobago.
The workshop – which was facilitated by a specialist technical team from the: International Trade Centre; Coconut Industry Board (Jamaica) and; University of Forida – was funded by the European Union under the ‘Alliances for Coconut Industry Development Expansion and Enhanced Support for the Caribbean’ (ACIDEES) project.