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MAWA AND MATAG: Two High Yielding Hybrids For The Revitasation Of The Malaysian Coconut Industry

In-recent years, declining coconut hectarage and yields imder the ageing Malayan Tails have resulted in a severe nut shortage in Malaysia for both the downstream processing sector as well as the edible domestic market. Replanting the current area using high yielding MAWA and MATAG hybrids is seen as a viable solution to this problem. Result from trials at United Plantations Berhad (UPB) have indicated that the optimum density for the hybrids is between 160 to 185 palms per hectare. At the stable mature phase, both the hybrids can yield up to 30,000 nuts per hectare or •6.5 tonnes copra. Whilst the hybrids are comparable in terms of nut production (180 to 190 nuts per palm per year), MATAG is superior in that it contains 18% more dry albumen per nut as compared to MAWA. It is also easier to dehusk and this could translate into better productivity. UPB has traditionally maintained on interest in coconut cultivation. Since the early 1990s', it has progressively converted its 3000 hectares of cocoa-coconut areas into monococonuts using the MAWA and MATAG. The salient aspect of UPB's approach to commercial scale cultivation and management is presented where a strong emphasis has been placed on mechanisation of all field operations. Mechanical dehusking using the modified Cariri dehusker is a significant development in this regard. The prospects and outlook of the industry is briefly discussed to show that coconut cultivation is a viable option, especially for the coastal areas where replanting from coconuts to oil palm pose a high risk of Ganoderma root disease. This is an even more pertinent issue since the industry is composed largely of smallholdings where underplanting is commonly practised.

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