India aids revival of coconut farms in Trinidad

Port of Spain, June 11 (IANS) India is helping Trinidad and Tobago revive the coconut industry in this Caribbean nation that has a significant population of Indian origin.

A two-member technical team from India’s Coconut Development Board (CDB) is at present working with Trinidad’s food production ministry towards this.

The board’s deputy director Remany Gopalakrishnan and technical officer Pramod P. Kurian spent 10 days here with government officials, private owners, and technical personnel and the St. Patrick Coconut Growers’ Co-operative Society towards reviving the coconut industry.

The aim of their visit is “to make an on-the-spot assessment of the coconut sector so as to develop a road map for the revival of the coconut sector”, said Indian High Commissioner Malay Mishra.

Of the approximately 148,000 Indian indentured labourers who arrived here between 1845 and 1917, a large number were assigned to work on the coconut industry, principally in the southwest peninsula of the country – in Mayaro, Cedros and Manzanilla.

Last year, a CDB official here researched the diseases that have dealt the industry a serious blow over the last decade or so.

According to Evans Rankhekewan, deputy director of agricultural services, Trinidad’s coconut industry witnessed a decline from 54,000 acres under cultivation in 1940 to 32,000 hectares in 1962.

“Currently, there are 12,000 acres under production, with 12 percent large farms accounting for 92 percent of the acreage.”

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at [email protected])

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