Due mainly to improved weather conditions, coconut production improved significantly in 2017.

SEVERAL hundred coconut farmers are now struggling to find regular and consistent market for their crop, following a substantial increase in the production of coconuts over the past 18 months.

The Coconut Industry Board (CIB) made the disclosure in a release last week, pointing out that though it is relieved that its efforts to increase production have borne fruit, it is aiming to respond to the dramatic increase.

Chairman of the CIB, Christopher Gentles, noted that the sector has rebounded from the shortage caused by the record droughts of 2014 and 2015, and is now in a position of strength.

“The weather has been exceptional and several coconut farmers have been experiencing a bumper crop. However, the cooler temperatures have also reduced the demand for jelly coconuts and have negatively impacted the sales of our coconut shop,” Gentles is quoted as saying in the release.

Meanwhile, CIB General Manager Yvonne Burns stated that coconut production for 2017 has improved significantly due mainly to improved weather and a distribution of more than $10 million worth of fertiliser to coconut farmers over the past 24 months.

She noted, too, that over the past 10 years, the CIB has distributed 657,128 coconut seedlings to farmers for the establishment of approximately 7,000 acres of coconuts, some of which are now contributing to the current supply, the release said.

The CIB said it is planning to increase its capacity to process jelly coconuts and, if the plans of its Strategic Business and Capital Expenditure Plan are successfully implemented, it will be investing in a facility to produce virgin coconut oil.

The release said the board has stated that several coconut farmers are hopeful that the coconut oil processing facility will be established as soon as possible, given the substantial increase in the supply of coconuts.