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Potential For Commercial Production Of Elite Planting Material

The COCONUT itself contains the promise of great demand and expansion worldwide due to the “Good Health” factor. Furthermore the versatility of the coconut, of value added products is already adding to or impacting the sugar, dairy and petroleum industries. Coconut farming will be the future of agriculture that also provides far reaching advantages of health benefits. However the key to this growth is Quality Planting Material.


Coming from India, we have seen the change in the life of the farmer esp. the small farmer, with the planting of good genetic material.  The CDB has done a lot to make available "better" planting material than is usually available.  The breeding centres in the Government and Private Sectors have done their bit too in this regards. 


As we in Deejay have contributed our bit to the pool of quality planting material, by producing hybrid seedlings, and as we are in regular touch with our 20,000  customer base, we have a good understanding of the challenge faced by the farmer esp this year of low prices. We also believe that quality Hybrids give better security and give a better guarantee to the small farmer, than quality Dwarfs or Quality Talls can.


Those who have planted quality planting material over the last couple of decades, have made profit, and some even good profit this year of poor prices.  Many of those with the traditional Tall Palms have even stopped harvesting.  In some small pockets in India with poor connectivity, fallen nuts are not even collected.


Besides Quality Planting Material, value addition has come to the rescue of some of the farmers.  However it is the Value Added Industrialist who has gained most often and not the farmer.


With our experience in India, over 80% of farmers who have planted hybrid coconut plants have moved from poverty to middle income group. A partnership between the New, high productivity coconut plant and the farmers must happen for sustainability and profitability of the coconut farm. From this we draw the obvious conclusion, that even in turbulent times of low prices and difficult climatic conditions, quality planting material is not just the financial safety net, but even the means for good income for the small farmer.  


We believe it is the responsibility of the Breeders, both private and Government,  to focus on producing quality planting material if the farmer is to be protected against the variables of agriculture. 


We would like to share with you some information of the selection and breeding practices we follow:


·           Most DXT hybrids appear better than their reciprocal crosses.  However we monitor and record several different parameters of the palm and of the nut.


·           We have developed a software program, called CDMS, to record these parameters. Today we have over 30,000 palms in our CDMS system. Deejays was the first company in the State of Karnataka to purchase a cupboard size, punch card type computer in 1981. With this asset, it was fortunate that from the very first planting, approx 8000 palms’ details could be collected and their growing and production records were computerized since their planting which started in 1983.  Since then with better computers and software the program has become easier to manage.


·           Factors of importance in our selection of Parental Palms are productivity, height of the palm, number of leaves and leaflets, size of the nut, weight of copra and percentage of oil. Some selections are done by the computer, but final selection is done by the scientist in charge by using both computer data and physical inspection. The Deejay Hybrid consequently has a better crown and more than 20 leaves or 20 spathes emerging per annum. 


·           Selection Pressure is approx. 99%.


·           All Breeding stock of Mother Palms are pedigreed, labelled and evaluated on a constant basis. Similar programs for several types of Father Palms are being implemented, but this began after 1983.


·           Deejays has a gene pool of 51 varieties of palms.


·           Trial hybrids are constantly being produced for evaluation in the field.  At the moment 41 number of trial hybrids are in various stages of growing and evaluation. Deejay has acquired a separate 50 ha farm for the planting of all types of hybrids including the DJ Research Department’s  trial hybrids.


·           Deejay has a total number of eight farms in India, some are leased.


·           Deejay has earlier implemented its Rejuvenation Program, where by the entire planting of mother palms done in the early 1980s have been replaced, section by section.





·           Deejay has since implemented the CIP program or Continuous Improvement Program/One percent of the poorest mother palms in production are replaced every two months. All replacements are done with pedigreed seedlings. This is found to be a better system than the Rejuvenation System, with less impact on seedling production.

It is pertinent to add here the challenge of efficient water usage, and of food production can best be addressed by the elite coconut hybrids.  The coconut palm is THE SOLUTION, It is better than any other plant or food producer around the world.  Furthermore with fresh water being the impending worldwide serious concern of the future, the good hybrid coconut trees can produce more food with less water than all other plants. 

Let us assume food is converted into calories. The recognized highest producer of calories per ha is sugarcane. At 4000 cal. per kg of cane sugar, and 8000 kgs of cane sugar per ha, sugarcane produces 3.2 million calories per ha.  Backed by hundreds of farmers growing elite hybrids coconut plants in South India, we find that over 40,000 kgs of palmsugar can be produced per ha with superior planting material. This is equivalent to 160 million calories produced per ha. Furthermore the elite palm requires a mere 200 ltrs of water to produce one kg of palm sugar.  This means that every liter of water produces 20 calories of food.   Sugarcane requires 12000 ltrs of water for 1 kg of cane sugar.  This means sugarcane uses up 1 ltr of water to produce 1/3  of a calorie.  There is no comparison.

The high producing Coconut palm is the way forward for it will be the main food producer of any other in the whole world.   Will the coconut community be ready when the world realizes this fact?

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