Ignoring some resources
When people talked about resource-rich Guyana, they were talking about a country that seems to have been blessed with everything necessary for its survival and the continued existence of its people at an excellent standard of living. It is a country blessed with a weather that is never in the extreme although there have been times when the rains would be heavier than usual and cause limited flooding.
What this country calls flooding is not even considered in other countries. And the same thing can be applied to drought. Trees for the most part remain green and while in some locations there may be some parched grass, Guyana can never really say that it has experienced a drought. There have been no reports of cattle dying in large numbers because of an absence of food and certainly no community could talk about people being thirsty because of an absence of water.
Because of the abundance of many things, we often take some other things for granted. We have never been known to manufacture much by way of utility items, so people would often criticize us for never making the spoke for a wheel. We have been good assemblymen and excellent producers of primary products.
We do produce all we can eat; every major food crop that adorns the tables is grown in Guyana, yet we import foods, but then again, it has to do with either an acquired taste or a case of being induced by what those in affluent societies crave. But in an effort to appear to be a person in a developed country many, including those in Government, forget some of the products that have made some countries rich. One of those products is the coconut.
There is no shortage of coconuts in Guyana. This is one plant that does not need intensive nurturing. In fact, once one places a bud in the ground there is a tree. A fallen nut will more than likely spring another tree.
There was a time when people relied on this palm for a living, when they used just about everything that the coconut palm had to offer. To this day, people still make a living from the branches—they fashion brooms that could be an export commodity, since households would vow that the coconut broom is perhaps the best of its kind.
The nuts were perhaps the most sought after thing from the plant. There is a burgeoning trade in the young nuts, which are believed to have special health benefits. And indeed, an analysis shows that just about every nutrient is found in the water from the young nuts—iron, magnesium, sodium. But it was the older nuts that demanded its share of the market.
Copra was the mainstay of many households. In parts of this country, one could have seen the shelled nut being put out to dry. This was one stage of copra production. From copra came the oil which has immense medical benefits.
Countries like Malaysia and some other eastern countries did wonders with coconut oil, to the extent that scientists in the developed world, in a quest to promote their own product, found a lot wrong with coconut oil.
But while they were finding fault with the raw coconut oil, their factories were busy refining the oil and making tons of money. Today they find that coconut oil is perhaps the best of the vegetable oils on the market and is credited with lowering cholesterol and preventing scabies and other skin infections.
Guyana never had a vibrant coconut oil industry, because there was never the governmental support. It remained a bottom house industry. Today we talk about the coconut occupying almost as much land as sugar and rice. Yet it is a forgotten plant.
The government now wants to resurrect the coconut industry. It may be a little too late, but sometimes it is better late than never. We talk about being the breadbasket of the region, but we are dumping valuable food commodities.
Our production of crops and livestock remains at the subsistence level; we still cannot satisfy an order for a few containers of tomatoes or bora or ochroes. However, we can supply and satisfy an order for vegetable oil, if only we try.