Agriculture Investing

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 kokers (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

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