Pomeroon Coconut Nursery

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

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

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 Kaieteur News, Guyana