Lead farmer Junior Philips, loading nuts into his truck following the presentation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security. (F. Belgrave/BGIS)

The coconut industry in Barbados is on the path to becoming a commodity for the future of the Island.

The Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) recently presented local farmers with nuts, at a ceremony held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security, at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.

ITC representative, William Castro, noted that Barbados is one of the countries where the project will be implemented to work with the entire value chain from farming to the consumer.

 “I’m happy to see various ranges of stakeholders, such as agriculture, the National Conservation Commission, the processing [industry], and of course, the farmers. This work has been done throughout a market that persons understand what are the market needs in Barbados, what are the dynamics here, … and also with our vision for the future, in terms of what is going to be the future for Barbados,” he stated.

Programme Manager, European Union to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States, Mariana Arias Fernández, whose organisation funds the project said, “I’m happy to see the good results because you know from our test it is not always obvious to see what’s happening on the ground.”

She added, “I follow the implementation of this programme. I’m very impressed by your work. You said this cannot happen without our funding, certainly this could not happen without you, all of you, your expertise, your work, ITC, CARDI, the Ministry, the National Conservation Commission and of course all the farmers.”

Lead farmer in the programme, Junior Philips, who has been a farmer for 12 years, started as a coconut vendor and transitioned to a coconut grove owner, after leasing land from the Ministry. He chose to initially enter the coconut industry due to its lower labour intensity and the fact that coconut trees could bear fruit within two to five years.

Mr. Philips, stating that there was a niche market for dry coconuts, said he was seeking to explore this market by selling dried coconuts to businesses.

He noted that he would use the nuts being presented to the farmers, by CARDI and ITC, in his grove and he expressed the hope that some cross-pollination would occur to create a different type of coconut.


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