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Assessment Of Experience With High Yielding Coconut Varieties In Papua New Guinea

As in other countries, coconut in Papua New Guinea is a multipurpose palm , particularly  in providing income and food, and as shade for cocoa. Smallholders account for two-thirds of total PNG copra and coconut oil production. The importance of coconut products in PNG commodity exports has declined, but iB still significant, being valued at US$45.7 million in 1988. Government’s Hybrid Coconut Scheme, started in 1975, concentrated on the distribution of Malayan Red Dwarf x Rennell Island Tall (MAREN) hybrids. The MAREN was chosen based on early trial results and a recognized risk taken in its widespread distribution, despite not having been widely field-tested. Failure of the scheme has been due largely to the combined attack of two in sects, S capanes australis and R hyncophorus bilineatus, which caused devastation in many plantings. All varieties tested so far can be attacked, with the RIT most suceptible. A new coconut improvement project is in progress, initially  concentrating  on material already  present in the country. It is intended  to produce a range of tall x tall and dwarf x tall hybrids to give greater grower choice, which has been widely field tested , and to avoid possible pitfalls  of emphasis on a single type of planting  material. How ever, most urgently  required  is solution of the Scapanes / Rhyncophorus problem , for which it is believed biological control (pheromones, virus, natural enemies) will provide the only long term solution.

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