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.
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.
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.
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.
You can download the Spore article here