Growing Demand for Coconut Products
With the ever-growing demand for Coconut and all its by-products on the global market, Coconut farming in Belize is growing steadily, and it can only get better. It could be said that coconuts are ‘trending’: coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water, dried, in candy, as a beauty booster, in cooking and in cocktails. In Belize, the production has been developing and continues to grow. The very mention of the Caribbean immediately conjures images of swaying palms.
In Belize, palm trees are everywhere, and its bounty has become an intrinsic element of our daily lives. Imagine our rice and beans or johnny-cakes without the use of coconut milk! It is what makes our puddings and famous hudut and coconut tarts so yummy. Belize fits the criteria for the conditions necessary for the coconut palm to thrive. Our soil is rich and the climate ideal. Palm trees are hardy; they love humidity and heat. They are not seasonal, so they bear fruit all year. Additionally, every bit of the coconut palm and nut is used at every stage: it is a good source of fuel, material for shelter, and palm leaves can be used as animal feed. The dried fronds can be used to make rope, bags, rugs, brushes, as well as roof thatch.
Why Coconuts are Good for You
The health benefits of consuming coconut are legendary. They contain ZERO cholesterol and are rich in vitamins, nutrients and amino acids such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and supply important electrolytes for the optimal function of the kidneys and regulation of blood pressure. During World War Two, some countries used coconut water as intravenous hydration because of a scarcity of saline.
The word coconut comes from the 16th century Portuguese and Spanish word meaning head or skull. The coconut has two indentations like a human skull. Early settlers introduced coconuts to Belize from Africa and the coast of the Indian ocean. A black Belizean, Sir Isaac Mortar, was the first person to become a millionaire by cultivating coconuts. In the 18th century, this fruit was considered a delicacy. Belize used to export to Great Britain, where they would process its food products. Unfortunately, the onset of disease and hurricane caused a drastic decline in the market.
It is estimated that today 5,600 acres of coconuts are throughout the country, mainly in Orange Walk, Stann Creek, and the Cayo districts. Coconut oil accounts for an income of $5 million, water brings in $4 million, milk powder provides $3 million, and other by-products fetch $1 million. The production provides work and income for 500 people. Exports exceed 850,000 nuts a year. Protocols for quality control are strictly adhered to.
While you are in Belize, grab a coconut and refresh yourself with all the natural vitamins.
Written by Nelita Castillo