Guyana lays out a path for sustainable development: The Green Development Strategy

Guyana is a land of intrigue. It’s the only English speaking country in South America. It’s home to the world’s largest single-drop waterfall, over four times as high as Niagara Falls. It’s 80% covered with pristine, untouched rainforest.

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But Guyana’s story could soon have a significant twist, as recent discoveries of offshore oil and gas reserves are catapulting the country onto the global stage. Driven by billions of dollars investment from Exxon Mobil, the country has discovered over three billion barrels of oil: some estimate the country will earn $5bn per annum by 2030.

For the 750,000 inhabitants of Guyana it’s an inflection point. Many dream of what the oil find means for their nation. But many are wary of the resource-curse and only have to look to their neighbor – Venezuela – to see what happens when oil wealth is squandered.

“Oil has historically generated wealth like few commodities can — but it’s also recognized as a double-edge sword, one associated with the so-called resource curse that has marred the development of countries like Angola and Venezuela. In worried conversations across government ministries and offices in Georgetown, Guyanese are expressing worries they will be the curse’s next victim”
— Foreign Policy Magazine, June 2019.

The resource curse – sometimes referred to as the “paradox of the plenty” – is the theory that that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have lower economic growth, worse development outcomes, and are less democratic than countries with fewer natural resources. Domination of commodity exports increases the exchange rate thereby hindering competitiveness of other industries, leading to over-reliance on the commodity sector which is inherently vulnerable to price volatility. This leads to lower economic growth, greater inequality and more absolute poverty. It can also lead to entrenched elites and higher levels of corruption as “easy resource revenues eliminate a critical link of accountability between government and citizens, by reducing incentives to tax other productive activity and use the revenue to deliver social services effectively” (The Atlantic, April 2012)

Before Nigeria first produced oil in 1958 it was considered “the breadbasket of Africa”. Now, oil revenues account for 98% of earnings and Nigeria is the third largest economy in Africa yet 45% of the population live under the poverty line. The agriculture and manufacturing sectors were destroyed in place of oil.

The Government of Guyana , aware of the opportunities and challenges that the oil and gas reserves convey, has laid out a fifteen-year plan: The Green State Development Strategy. The objective of the strategy is to reorient and diversify Guyana’s economy, reducing reliance on traditional sectors and opening up new sustainable income and investment opportunities in higher value adding and higher growth sectors.

There are seven central themes:

  1. Green and Inclusive Structural Transformation: Diversifying the economic base, accessing new markets and creating jobs for all

  2. Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Expansion of Environmental Services: stewardship of natural patrimony

  3. Energy: transition to renewable energy and greater energy independence

  4. Resilient Infrastructure and Spatial Development

  5. Human Development and Well-being

  6. Governance and Institutions

  7. International Cooperation, Trade, and Investment

Within these buckets are specific initiatives, such as creating of a sovereign wealth fund for oil proceeds and investing in shared processing facilities for value-added processing of agricultural goods. While many of these are longer term projects, some are already in progress and will deliver more immediate results.

The energy efficiency project in Bartica, for example, includes the connection of a 20kWp grid connected solar photovoltaic system along with the installation of energy efficient lighting. The undertaking, implemented with the support of the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership, is only the beginning of a broader national plan that will help address energy security. This is part of the government’s commitment to transitioning to the use of 100% renewable energy in public institutions by 2025. 

A second initiative aims to protect the country’s rainforest. After receiving funding from Norway to curb deforestation, the Guyana Forestry Commission developed a system for measuring the quantity of carbon stored by the country’s forest and is now able to make educated decisions about which trees can be cut down with the least impact to the ecosystem. Guyana’s annual rate of deforestation has dropped to 0.048%, one of the lowest figures in South America and well below the 0.275% average for tropical countries (Bloomberg, May 2019)

We believe agriculture plays a critical role in the future economy of Guyana. It will help to ensure diversification and guarantee food security. Guyana has always been a land of farmers: with the fertile soils and generations of passed-down-knowledge, we cannot afford to let this critical industry disappear.  

Pomeroon is playing its part in this new breath of life for the agriculture industry. We are:

  • Introducing new, high-value crops such as tropical fruits and spices. These are exportable crops that have sustained demand in North America

  • Building processing facilities that meet North American and European standards. These facilities will be used for our own in-house production as well as smallholder produce as part of our out-grower programme

  • Improving the quality of domestic coconut production: we select better varieties that are more resistant to disease and have better yields

  • Planting the largest coconut seedling nursery in the Caribbean to ensure safe and secure supply of seedstock for all farmers

  • Investing in data-driven trials to find the next big crop that will drive agricultural exports

Moringa: an ancient crop finds a new home in the Pomeroon

The Pomeroon embodies a paradise to grow coconuts but this is not the only crop that thrives in our estate. As part of a series of data-driven trials, we are experimenting with new crops such as moringa oleifera.

Moringa trees growing in the Pomeroon and moringa nursery

Central to our philosophy is intercropping. This is a core agronomic principle: it helps replenish soil nutrients, controls unwanted weeds, minimizes soil erosion, and increases both soil fertility and oxygen content. Moreover, it has an important role to play in farm economics; by growing valuable fruits and spices we generate additional revenue sources.

Moringa is considered one of the most nutrition-rich plants in the world. Tracing its origins to India, moringa has gained fans around the world, as consumers concerned about maintaining a healthy lifestyle are going wild for this superfood. According to scientists from the University of California, Davis, “If there were a top 10 list of plants that are going to help feed the world over the next hundred years, moringa should be on that list”.

Moringa is an efficient crop to grow and market. You use every part of the plant including the leaves, pods, seeds, and flowers. It is also grown year-round and can fill in otherwise unoccupied areas of land on a commercial farm.

In 2015 more than 80% of Moringa was grown in Asia but this is now changing as the Caribbean and South America catch up. The increasing demand from nutraceuticals and food and beverages companies worldwide is pushing the region to grow its moringa production at a faster pace. Countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Trinidad and St. Lucia are pulling ahead. Even North America, where competition from higher-value crops is strong, is growing moringa: small farmers are planting out swathes of the Coachella valley and even Hawaii.

Driven by the health-foods sector, the moringa market is expected to reach $7 billion by 2020 (from $4 billion in 2015) and a CAGR of 10% for the 2018-2022 period. At the time, parallel industries are taking notice: even the animal feed market is looking to moringa as an affordable substitute to other food sources that are under pressure.  

Since 2018 Pomeroon has conducted data-driven trials with different varieties of moringa - or as it’s known locally, saijan. We plant lines of moringa trees amongst the coconut trees, making use of all available space. The pods are used in local cuisine; the leaves are dried outdoors under the sun before being powdered for export market; the oil form the kernel is used as a food supplement.  

To make this one of Guyana’s main exports will require significant investment in processing. To this end, Pomeroon is currently designing a multi-purpose spice and dried fruit facility that will process crops from our estate and local smallholder farmers.

Sun-dried moringa leaves and moringa pods

Climate Smart Agriculture in the Pomeroon

The world is facing a monumental food security challenge: we need to produce 70% more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people. This problem is compounded by agriculture’s vulnerability to climate change. And to make it even more complicated, agriculture is part of the climate change problem: the sector generates 20-30% of the total greenhouse gas emissions.

So, how do we produce more for less? We believe Climate-Smart Agriculture is the answer - a more resilient food system that produces more and pollutes less. To achieve this will require contributions from us all, so here’s what we are doing:

1) Increasing agricultural productivity: from when we started working in Guyana we learned something very quickly: lack of availability of high-quality coconut seedlings was holding back the entire industry. This was validated by an academic research paper run by Duke University. We have spent hundreds of thousands and USD investing in what we believe to be the Caribbean's largest private coconut seedling nursery. This matters because high-quality seedlings drive productivity in future years: coconut yields can vary from 50-250 coconuts per tree, a massive variation that will define the success (or not) of estates for the next generation. We hand-select seednuts, grow them in our nursery in controlled conditions and then plant in the fields at the right time. We also share our innovations with the local community - teach seminars to smallholder farmers and sell seedlings at affordable prices.

Dr Roberts of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) inspecting hand-selected seednuts at the Pomeroon Seedling Nursery

Dr Roberts of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) inspecting hand-selected seednuts at the Pomeroon Seedling Nursery

2) Building resilience: we farm an area of land sandwiched between the Pomeroon River and the Atlantic Ocean - climate change is an existential threat to the farming communities of Guyana and we take this very seriously. We have constructed extensive drainage across the farm: digging drainage canals from end to end, and then smaller drains literally every 5-10m through on a grid pattern. With cokers (adjustable water gates that allow water in/out) we now have complete control over water levels within the estate. Moreover, we are bolstering the natural mangrove defences along the waterside - environmentally-friendly protection against flooding and soil erosion.

Drainage canals aren’t just for flood protection - they’re for transporting crops also!

Drainage canals aren’t just for flood protection - they’re for transporting crops also!

3) Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: Reducing or removing greenhouse gas emissions: coconut trees have proven potential for carbon sequestration (a net positive effect as carbon is removed from the air and sequestered in the trees). According to an independent assessment, the greenhouse gas emission reduction potential of 60 trees per acre in a 1,000 acre estate is around 2,400 metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year. We are planting over 65,000 trees in the Pomeroon (one of the largest tree planting efforts). Because of our leadership in this area we were invited to be Guyana's first member of Initiative 20x20, the World Resources Institute programme to fight land degradation.

Seedlings finishing under the shade netting before moving out to the field

Seedlings finishing under the shade netting before moving out to the field

Pomeroon has been recognised for its CSA achievements:

(1) Journal of Urban, Rural & Environmental Resilience: featured Pomeroon in an article entitled “In Guyana, This Coconut Producer Has Restored 1000 Acres of Degraded Farmland” about the intersection between environmentally sustainable business and profitable business.

(2) Spore: the publication of the Technical Center for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation featured Pomeroon in an article entitled "A more Resilient Approach" about how development banks and private lenders are developing innovative blended finance and risk-sharing solutions to tackle the effect of climate change on agriculture supply chains.

Climate Smart Agri Finance
Agricultural projects that demonstrate resilience to climate change – either from the outset or following targeted adaptation – can represent a better financial risk to private-sector lenders, while helping development banks, donors and an increasing number of private investors achieve their sustainability goals. Climate resilience was a key consideration – from both a financial risk and sustainability perspective – for investors who participated in a €2.6 million fundraiser by Pomeroon Trading for a major rehabilitation of the 280 ha Stoll Estate in Guyana, says co-founder Duncan Turnbull
— Spore (Technical Center for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation)

You can download the Spore article here

Coconut Research: A Seismic Divide

In a new report on the global coconut industry, Agronomy Capital Advisors argue that the industry is separating into “well-funded, progressive and vertically integrated agro-industrial coconut producers” and “dispersed smallholder production”.

The report adds that “very small (less than 1 hectare) and widely scattered, subsistence farms across Asia … account for more than 70% of the global coconut crop”. These are ageing and low-yielding estates (the Philippines average yield is less than 4MT/ha) in areas with “near-impossible logistics” and basic local processing facilities.

In comparison, South America - led by innovation and scale in Brazil - benefits from “technologically based farming, with advanced irrigation systems and high yielding varietals, purpose bred for specific product niches” and “a sophisticated modern distribution network”.

Pomeroon Trading is featured on page 55 and one of the report’s authors visited The Stoll Estate (Guyana) as part of an on-going collaboration.

You can download the report in full HERE

Pomeroon Coconuts: 2018 In Pictures

Pomeroon Joins Initiative 20x20 run by the World Resources Institute

Initiative 20x20 is a country-led effort seeking to change the dynamics of land degradation in Latin America and the Caribbean by bringing 20 million hectares of land into restoration by 2020.

Pomeroon Trading was invited to join by the World Resources Institute as a Financial Partner. Our Stoll Estate in Guyana will be showcased as a restoration project that delivers valuable social and environmental benefits as well as ensuring the protection of pristine lands at risk of degradation. This is the first such project recognised in Guyana.

You can see Initiative 20x20’s feature about Pomeroon here.

The initiative — launched formally at COP 20 in Lima — supports the Bonn Challenge, a global commitment to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.

Key Facts:

  • Land restoration can increase food productivity and security for an estimated 49 million under-nourished people in Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Latin America and the Caribbean account for about half of the world’s remaining tropical and southern temperate forests


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Guyana Well-Positioned to Take Advantage of USA Coconut Water Market

Guyana - with its fertile lands and strategic position outside of the hurricane belt - is ideally positioned to become a major supplier of coconut water to the North American Market.

On a visit to Pomeroon Trading’s Stoll Estate, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin said the Guyanese coconut industry is on the brink: “with the right injection of new ideas, pilot projects and new funding, the industry can become a major contributor to the Guyanese economy”

See the Guyana Chronicle article here


Guyana has coconut farming in its very fabric and the world’s biggest market is on our doorstep. Now is the time to diversify the Guyanese economy. Now is the time to solidify a position as the coconut water supplier to North America. Now is the time to rally this industry into the giant it deserves to be.
— Duncan Turnbull - Founder, Pomeroon

Pomeroon Holds Women's Empowerment Seminar

Pomeroon Trading designed and sponsored a Women’s Empowerment Seminar Series in Guyana. The workshop – held for 50 women from the community – included presentations on gender equality, entrepreneurship and accessing finance.

The seminar is part of the Women's Empowerment and Development Strengthening Project, an initiative to promote the socio-economic development of women by building an environment for social change in targeted rural areas.

In addition, there was cervical cancer screening services offered free of charge to all women. The project was run in conjunction with the Ministry for Social Protection and the Cancer Association of Guyana.

For more information, read media coverage of the event here


Stabroek News: "Awakening the Giant'

"Coconut Output to Quadruple by 2025"

A detailed article published by the Stabroek News covering the rapidly growing interest from the international investor community in Guyanese coconuts. The article also features the "Lead Farmer" programme, an initiative to "catalyze business alliance formation" between smallholder farmers and larger farmers. Pomeroon Trading has been a Lead Farmer since the inception of the programme. See the full article here.


There are currently 25,000 acres of coconut trees within Guyana ... Investors are interested in expanding this to about 100,000 acres within a decade
— Raymond Trotz: National Coordinator of the International Trade Center

The Pomeroon Coconut Nursery

One of the largest challenges facing the Caribbean coconut sector is supply of good-quality planting material. Pomeroon Trading is changing this.

In December 2017 we began work on the Pomeroon Seedling Nursery – a venture we believe will become the Caribbean’s largest private sector nursery.

The availability of coconut seedlings is one of the key reasons for underperformance in the Guyanese coconut sector so we are tackling this problem at the most fundamental level. Existing estates are often ageing and unproductive: without the right planting materials the industry cannot revitalise.

We are delighted to be partnering with The National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute of Guyana (NAREI), and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). The organisations play critical roles in spreading knowledge amongst smallholder farmers. Their expertise and grassroots engagement in selecting the best seed-nuts from across the Pomeroon will ensure we are growing only the strongest and most productive coconut trees in the coming decades.

Once selected, seed-nuts are classified and graded for quality. Our team plants only the top-tier nuts in our nursery, located at the Stoll Estate. They will grow for 3-6 months in the fertile soil before being transplanted out to the fields where they will blossom into the next generation of mature coconut palms.

For more information, see an article here published by Kaiteur News, Guyana


Guyana Chronicle: "Pomeroon, A Plush Place"

Pomeroon Trading is featured in the Guyana Chronicle.

The expansive article covers the Pomeroon Coconut Nursery, plans for processing facilities, and the fertility of the Pomeroon region. See the full article here


The Caribbean is close to the world’s largest demand centre (the US) but produces less than one percent of the world’s supply of coconuts. With Guyana’s fertile soils and perfect agronomic conditions, I believe this can change
— Guyana Chronicle, February 2018

The Guyanese Coconut Industry Awakens

Pomeroon CEO, Duncan Turnbull, argues in the Global AgInvesting Magazine, that as the Guyanese sugar industry is in terminal decline there is home from the sugar industry.

Cane sugar has dominated more than just the Caribbean landscape: it is fundamental to the socio-economic fabric of the region. As Guyana prepares to turn off the sugar industry’s life support, another industry is awakening. Coconut exports, in metric tonnes, have increased by a factor of 40 since 2008 and farm gate prices have tripled.

See full article here


Pomeroon Donates Dining Room To Local School

Pomeroon Trading has a strong community outreach program focused on education and female empowerment. Our first community project - completed in February 2018 - was building a dining room at Hackney Primary School.

Prior to the new dining room, the children had to eat outside (in the direct sun) or inside (thereby dirtying the classroom) as there was no dedicated dining area. The new beautiful wooden dining room will accommodate all children and teachers, thereby facilitating the existing feeding program and teaching of dining etiquette.

On Tuesday 6th February 2018, Hackney Primary School and Pomeroon Trading celebrated a joyous Opening and Blessing Ceremony of a newly donated dining room. Over 50 guests from across the world arrived in the Pomeroon and were treated to a magnificent celebration of song, dance, speeches, prayer and happiness.

Hackney School is in The Pomeroon, Region 2, about 30 minutes along the river towards at the Atlantic Coast from Charity. The school educates 69 children (33 boys and 36 girls) aged between five and twelve. Under the excellent guidance of the Headmistress, Miss Verna Naomi Jack, they teach Maths, English, Literature, Social Studies, Science, Physical Education, Arts and Craft, Health and Family Life.

For Mr Ted English, a carpenter from the Pomeroon who worked on the dining room, it was a particularly special project: as a child he was a pupil at Hackney Primary School!

All children deserve a nutritious lunch in a clean and safe environment: this improves educational attainment and reduces truancy. We’re delighted to do our part and work with Hackney Primary School to foster education in the Pomeroon.

Read more about The Blessing Ceremony here

Kaiteur News: "Massive Investment in Local Coconut Industry"

Pomeroon Trading is featured in the Kaiteur News.

The article covers the companies significant investment in the Guyanese coconut industry and the partnership with Guyana's National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (NAREI). See the full article here


They are rehabilitating the current estate as well as doing some replanting. It’s an investment we welcome. I believe they will help the estate reach its true potential
— Dr Homenauth, CEO of NAREI, Guyana