"Celebrating the potential of the region's coconut industry" – this was the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute’s (CARDI)’s 2018 theme to recognize their day.
CARDI's aim is to highlight the Institute’s work under the EU-ACP funded Regional Coconut Industry Development Project. To this end, the Institute collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour to host an exhibition to showcase locally made coconut products. The exhibition was held on Wednesday, 5th December, 2018, at the old treasury building site.
CARDI’s Country Representative, Gregory Linton, stated that the coconut industry has many opportunities to improve income and employment in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Linton therefore called for an increase in the acreage of coconut across the country and urged farmers to replenish old stock. He said the exhibition will help Vincentians to see some of the practical ways that the EU-ACP funded project is utilizing coconut and adding value to one of the region’s oldest industries.
Chair of the National Stakeholder Platform, Alpheus Nanton, said the group was established on July 14th, 2015. “We are a group of entrepreneurs who are willing to develop” the coconut industry in Saint Vincent. Nanton stressed that coconut is more than just soap and oil and there are lots of different things that can be made from it. The industry is very old, he stated, and it is “time for us to do a replanting from the North to the South.”
Chief Agricultural Officer, Ashley Caine, was among the speakers at the opening of the exhibition. He reminded the audience of the important role that coconut tree had in this country from since the days of plantation. He noted the traditional uses of the coconut tree which included lumber, broom, and roofing material.
Diversification Officer within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Transformation, Colville King, delivered remarks on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Saboto Caesar. King said the Minister asked him to extend sincerest thanks to CARDI for implementing the coconut industry initiative and offered congratulations to them for hosting the exhibition. The Diversification Officer told the audience that the agricultural sector remains vitally important for employment, for poverty reduction, for food security and foreign exchange in this country.
Chairperson of the function, Leroy Jackson, gave his full endorsement for the locally made coconut products on display. Jackson said local entrepreneurs highlight the potential there is in the coconut industry going forward. He used the opportunity to thank all those who came on board to exhibit their products.
The Bureau of Standards was among the exhibitors. They had representatives on hand to showcase services for persons involved in the coconut industry and for prospective entrepreneurs. Jennifer Douglas-Bullock, the Bureau’s Representative, explained that they offer a range of services for persons who need information on standards within the coconut industry, food safety information applicable to the processing of coconut, its uses, and a range of products which can be had from it.