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The International Coconut Genetic Resources Network ( COGENT ) And Its Poverty Reduction In Coconut Growing Communities Initiative

The International Coconut Genetic Resources Network (COGENT) is a global research network organized in 1992 to improve coconut production on a sustainable basis, increase income in developing countries through improved cultivation of the coconut and efficient utilization of its products' and promote a worldwide programme for the conservation and use of coconut genetic resources. Such an international network allows member countries to share experiences, best practices and technologies more efficiently and to find solutions to common problems more effectively for the common good. COGENT has grown to 38 member countries which have been actively coordinating international research in collaboration with member countries. Priority activities include the conservation and use of coconut genetic resources through establishing an International Coconut Genetic Resource Database; encouraging and utilization of existing germplasm collection, promoting safe germplasm exchange, information and technology sharing, and trainings. In an effort to help reduce poverty in existing resource-poor coconut communities, eight developing member countries (DMCs) of the Asia-Pacific region, through the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute’s International Coconut Genetic Resources Network (IPGRI- COGENT), requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to support a three-year project entitled “Poverty Reduction in Coconut Growing Communities' . The project will empower resource-poor coconut farmers’ and socio-economically disadvantaged women to become village-level entrepreneurs. High-yielding, adapted and high-value coconut varieties will be identified, characterized and deployed to enhance genetic diversity and products from coconut; intercrops and livestock will be diversified to increase incomes, enhance food security and improve nutrition of the rural poor. The overriding aim is to develop sustainable, coconut-based and village-level technologies that would increase farm incomes and promote food security in 24 rural communities in 8 countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Fiji Islands, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam) to help reduce poverty in these coconut­ growing communities. Using these successful communities as models, the project will convince individual country governments, development organizations and donors to replicate the project nationwide. With the help o f county governments and donors, the project is envisioned to expand to 15 countries in 2005 and 25 countries by 2006.

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