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Low-Cost Production Practises By Smallholders To Sustain Productivity Of Coconut In Sri Lanka

Sustaining the productivity of existing coconut holdings has become a national need in achieving a substantial growth of the coconut industry in Sri Lanka. Coconut is essentially a crop of the smallholders with scarce resources. Poor adoption of production practices and niiiiimum use of external inputs by smallholders have largely contributed to the low productivity of coconut. This paper outlines several crop production practices developed for smallholdings with the aim of increasing the productivity and augmenting the income from coconut. It has been demonstrated that application of scientific management practices has a positive effect on coconut productivity. Some notable achievements in the development of low-cost production practices for sustained coconut production include the introduction of Differential Fertilizer Recommendations (DFR) package, integrated plant nutrient systems (IPNS), integration of cattle with improved pasture and legume trees and drip irrigation system. Coconut growers, in particular smallholders, have immensely benefited from the application of these time tested technologies, in terms of improved coconut production, reduced cost of production, restoring and maintaining fertility of soil on degraded land particularly class 4 and 5, and above all protecting the environment against water pollution. In addition to the agronomic benefits, application of these technologies have produced more profits per unit area of land, without depleting the natural resource base. It is concluded that the application of these low-cost and eco- fiiendly agronomic practices for optimising the productivity of coconut could make a significant contribution to achieve an annual production target of 3.5 billion nuts by the year 2010 and sustain a viable coconut industry in Sri Lanka.

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