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Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) In Coconut Cultivation And Coconut Based Farming Systems (CBFS)

Coconut is grown in more than 93 countries between the tropics of cancer and Capricorn.  The total area under coconut in the world is approximately 12.05 million hectares producing 61165 million nuts or 12.22 million tonnes of copra equivalent per annum. The Philippines, Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka are the major coconut producing countries in the world. In the Philippines, Indonesia, and India coconut is used mainly for the production of exportable products such as coconut oil, desiccated coconut, copra, and coir. Where as in Sri Lanka, two third of its production is used for domestic culinary purposes and the balance is used for the production of desiccated coconut, oil and other exportable products such as coconut milk powder and cream.  Similarly, island countries in the pacific region, coconut are their main source of income and it is being used for production of oil or copra for the export market.

One of the major issues faced by majority of coconut growing countries is stagnant or declining production and productivity of coconut lands. This is a multi facet problem which occurs due to many complex reasons. Conversion of traditional coconut lands into new agricultural vistas, lack of new high yielding varieties, declining soil fertility, emerging new pests and diseases, natural calamities like prolonged droughts, typhoons, and cyclones, declining interest of coconut growers due to poor economic gains out of coconut are the main contributory factors for this situation. Therefore, new scientific approaches are necessary to enhance coconut production and productivity of coconut lands at country as well as global level.     

Coconut being a long-term crop, if properly cared it is expected to be productive for over 60 years depending on the variety. Therefore, selection of well grown seedlings, adhering to an optimally suited planting density with ideal distances based on cropping pattern, preparation of the seed hole based on the soil type and climatic conditions are some of the crucial factors that determine the establishment of a uniform and a highly productive plantation. After care of seedlings by providing adequate sunlight, water, nutrients, and protection from pest and diseases as well as rodents are very important for the growth of the seedlings. As a long –term crop, cultivation of coconut for several generations has led to the gradual degradation of soil physical conditions as well as soil fertility.  Therefore, scientific approaches of soil and soil moisture conservation are extremely important to maintain productivity and profitability of coconut lands. Soil fertility management and control of pests and diseases are two other important practices that need to be adopted in coconut lands to optimize their productivity.

In the old system of coconut cultivation, the majority of lands were maintained as monoculture plantations by small holders and estate sector. Nevertheless, monocropping is an inefficient land management system of low productivity with poor economic returns. Integration of coconut lands with intercrops and livestock are the best options for maximizing land use and income from coconut lands. Further marginal and moderately suitable lands for coconut cultivation offer much scope for successful integrated farming, as coconut alone on this lands do not generate adequate income.

Various crop models developed for integration with coconut have benefited by increasing income and profits, sunlight use efficiency, maximizing resource utilization, increasing coconut production, reducing weed growth, providing food security, energy security, as well as risk of depending on one crop for income.       

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