“Start planting more coconuts.”

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Shortage of coconuts

Just when the world craves for it, the Caribbean’s running out of the commodity

AT the worst possible time, the Caribbean is running short of one of its most emblematic products.p10_bizd_mm_1009_p10c_mm_1

Rich world consumers have never been keener on the coconut. Starbucks wants the tropical fruit’s milk for lattes, Rihanna promotes its water as a trendy sports drink, and the price of coconut oil has jumped more than 50% in the past year.

The Caribbean is practically synonymous with the coconut, so its farmers should be cashing in. For a bunch of reasons, they aren’t. Storms, droughts and the Lethal Yellowing disease, spread by planthopping insects, have wiped out entire farms; growers have failed to invest in new trees, or fertilisers to improve yields.

Caribbean plantations have shrunk by about 17% since 1994, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

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