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Global Coconut Communities – Status And Strategies For Strengthening Farmer’s Uses Of Coconut Genetic Resources And Conservation Beyond Genebanks

Return the germplasm to the farmers! Since about a hundred of years, scientists have collected traditional varieties from farmer’s fields and have enclosed this material in ex situ genebanks. Now the time has come to widely return this genetic richness to farmers; and to work closely with all coconut stakeholders to ensure a more efficient conservation and use beyond genebanks. This new concept broadens the in situ conservation approach by integrating on farm conservation and multifunctionnal landscaping approaches helping farmers to produce better seedlings. Social and biological factors impacting conservation and use beyond genebanks are discussed: socio-economic dynamics, legislative and policy measures, farmer’s knowledge regarding the reproductive biology of their crops. Developing incentives for conservation beyond genebanks may include: promoting the production of traditional and hybrid seedlings by farmers, branding coconut products by varieties, linking ecotourism programmes and conservation, creating on-line farmer’s database to help promote high value products and the use of traditional varieties. Some designs for coconut conservation and breeding beyond genebanks are presented, such as the Polymotu concept with its three declinations, island, inland or urban. A new participatory approach in breeding for tolerance to the lethal yellowing diseases caused by phytoplasmas is discussed with references to projects envisioned in Côte d’Ivoire or Papua New Guinea.

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