Climate Change a Mixed Blessing for Coconut Farmers

Climbing up the coconut industry has been anything but easy for Rosamund Benn, who has dedicated the past 32 years of her life working on a 50-acre coconut farm in The Pomeroon, a farming region of Guyana.

The Pomeroon borders the Atlantic Ocean to the north, the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara to the east, Cuyuni-Mazaruni to the south and Barima-Waini to the west. The area is characterised by large rivers with an abundance of farms and fruit, including and especially coconuts.

Benn, along with her daughter and husband, produces virgin coconut oil from their home. She says every batch of 400 dry coconuts yields five to six gallons of oil.

She says climate change has also been playing a big part in the amount of coconut oil she is able to produce.

But while most of the discussions about the climate change phenomenon centre on the negative impacts, Benn told IPS that for her and other farmers in The Pomeroon, climate change is somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

Scientists say climate change is responsible for higher air and sea temperatures, drier dry seasons, more intense rainfall, shifts in seasonal timings and greater weather extremes, among others.

Dr. Janet Lawrence, a Jamaican entomologist with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), agrees that there are some positive aspects to climate change. But she also noted that with increasing temperatures and a drier region, farmers should expect significantly more pests.

In Guyana, coconut ranks third after rice and sugar in terms of acreage cultivated. It is estimated that there are currently 24,000 hectares of coconut cultivation across the country with an average annual production of 90 to 100 million nuts.

Coconut delivers a wide variety of products, including coconut water, coconut oil, coconut milk and dried coconut, which are all in demand regionally and internationally.

Source: Desmond Brown | IPS News