3 times read

International Coconut Research : Past, Present And Future Perspective

The purpose of this paper is to summarize intemational efforts in coconut research over the past fifteen years and discuss present and future perspectives on intemational coconut research that would serve the needs of the commodity and those who depend on it. Coconut is important as a multi-purpose tree, a local and an export commodity, grown largely by smallholders, often in fragile environments with few prospects for other crops. The possibility of an intemational initiative in coconut research was first discussed with the APCC at its meeting in Bangkok in May 1999 and at a subsequent APCC sponsored, workshop in Singapore later that year. The CGIAR had requested its Technical Advisory Committee to undertake a consultative process to identify: 1) priority problems that affect coconut production; 2) those problems that could be addressed through research; and 3) new approaches to address those researchable issues that are mtemational in character, and beyond the scope of any one country to resolve. The priorities for intemational effort are within the fields of: 1) germplasm collecting, conservation, evaluation and enhancement; 2) the control of pests and diseases, especially the lethal diseases; 3) the productivity and sustainability of coconut based systems; 4) efficiency and added value in post harvest handling and utilization; and 5) socio-economic issues, such as the factors that influence farmers' choices in replanting coconut land. The CGIAR formally agreed to the inclusion of coconut as a CGIAR commodity within its R&D portfolio in 1992 and decided that first priority for CGIAR support be given to genetic resources collection, conservation, characterization and utilization. This decision resulted in the establishment of the Intemational Network on Coconut Genetic Resources (COGENT), which now has 35 member countries and an active R&D program. Its activities include the establishment of a multi-site intemational genebank in India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Cote d'lvoire, fanner participation, research on varietal selection, socio-economic studies on the value and choice of hybrids, and pilot projects in 14 countries on value added products to increase profitability. There is also intemational collaboration in breeding methodologies and applications of new molecular techniques to coconut germplasm. The critical elements identified for intemational initiatives are: 1) Identify a set of priority problems of global significance; 2) provide an enabling financing mechanism by which research on the priority problems may be undertaken by scientists worldwide; 3) provide intemational auspices for a program of genetic resources collecting, conservation, exchange and utilization; and 4) provide means for continuity of funding in coconut research. Much progress has been made in intemational coconut R&D efforts over the past decade. This has been the result of careful planning and meaningful consultations. There is a need now to plan with similar care for the next decade, determine a focussed set of priorities and expected outcomes, strengthen the partnerships and strategic alliances necessary to achieve these outcomes, and mobilize the necessary finance, form national and mtemational resources. Future national and intemational R&D efforts will then have a high chance of success in alleviating the constraints affecting the coconut industry today, contribute to increasing its long term profitability and sustainability and increase the competitiveness of coconut, for the benefit of all who depend on the Tree of Life.

....Read Now