The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Country Representative for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Greg Robin is leading a 10 member team of stakeholders drawn from across the coconut value chain here to a three day consultation in St Lucia.
A release from the Ministry of Agriculture says the consultation, which is the third of its kind, is being held at Coco Resort in St Lucia.
CARDI is partnering with the Geneva based International Trade Centre (ITC) and the European Union (EU) to implement a 3.5 million Euro project seeking to develop the Coconut industry in the Caribbean.
The project aims to; enhance the competitiveness of small scale coconut farmers, through the identification of market opportunities and value chain development plans, develop better synergies between national and regional programmes, improve access to advisory services for improved production, processing, commercialisation, financing and improve access to risk management instruments.
This project is financed by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund and will be implemented in the CARIFORUM countries of Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Within recent years the demand for fresh coconut produce and coconut based health and beauty products have skyrocketed on both the regional and world markets. Many Caribbean countries have been unable to satisfy this growing demand, mainly due to the setbacks their industry experienced in the early 1980’s.
Principal among these has been the loss of international markets for traditional products, ageing populations, loss of consumer confidence and growing pest and disease problems. CARDI Executive Director (Ag.) Bruce Lauckner is pleased for the support to revitalise the coconut industry in the Caribbean because of its “significant potential to contribute to economic development and poverty reduction in the benefitting countries.”
One of the first phases of the project will be to engage with national stakeholders to formulate road maps for market led development of the coconut and coconut products sector, as well as to agree on implementation plans. To achieve this CARDI and ITC will be hosting Value Chain Development Road Mapping Workshops in the various project countries. These road maps will address critical areas such as market options, production and productivity, support services and the policy environment among others.
Specialists from within and outside the Region will also present on current market dynamics, performance requirements, plant material availability, new technologies and discuss with participants current Caribbean coconut supply dynamics. Dominican coconut stakeholders will also be attending this workshop.