Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean can benefit from the global resurgence in the demand for fresh and processed coconuts, if the right investments are made to grow and expand the industry. The dynamics in the coconut market offers tremendous opportunity to agribusiness industries in Jamaica and the Caribbean. There are huge opportunities for thousands of smallholder farmers to raise incomes and profitability by connecting them to local, regional and international value chains.
In Jamaica and across the Caribbean the supply base is stagnant. This has been linked to the slow growth profile of the trees and the years of neglect and underinvestment in the industry as a result of the legacy of the copra industry.
Although Jamaica accounts for 0.3-0.5% of the world supply the country is still uniquely positioned in the Caribbean to develop a vibrant coconut industry to supply local, regional and international markets. Some of the enabling factors that facilitates this are:
- Well-established coconut R&D capabilities (CIB);
- Alliances between lead brands and retail firms with regional and global reach in consumer markets;
- The country’s strong brand reputation;
- Strength in sea and air freight connectivity; and
- Ongoing policy and institutional reform
Researchers convening in Kingston in February 2018, under the context of the Intra-ACP project, funded by the European Union for Coconut Industry Development for the Caribbean, modeled the projected economic and financial impacts of investing in Jamaica’s coconut sector. Two business components were explored:
- Investments in revitalized coconut production (seedlings and nurseries);
- Investments in coconut water processing for export.
Investments were considered over a 10-year period, and assumed an additional growth of 10,000 acres per year, starting from 10,000 acres, with 87 trees per acre and a base case of 60 nuts per tree. A price of J$75 per nut was considered. These numbers are realistic based on existing conditions, and the extent of under-utilized plantations in Jamaica currently. Investment in primary production had the lowest estimated rates of financial return but is imperative to achieving the potential impacts. Significant impacts from biodiversity and maintained soil quality are also expected.
Full article in CARDI Ministers’ Brief, March 2018: Jamaica, pp. 3-4