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Technological Developments On Coconut Crop Improvement, Coconut Agronomy/Nutrition, And Coconut Based Farming System In Sri Lanka

Coconut is the largest plantation crop grown in Sri Lanka covering land area of 394,386 ha. At present, national average nut yield is approximately 7109 per/ha/year.  The research programme of the Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka basically directed to improve crop production, crop protection, production of value added products and ultimately to increase productivity of coconut lands to maximize farmer’s profit. 

Under the crop improvement programme, coconut breeding for development of new cultivars has been strengthened. Among the new varieties:  Sri Lanka Tall x San Ramon and Sri Lanka Green Dwarf x San Ramon performed well and nowin mass production to meet the demand from growers. Due to narrow gene poolin Sri Lanka, several exotic germplasm from India, PNG and Ivory Coast have been introduced. Sri Lanka Brown Dwarf appeared one of the best dwarf type for hybridization with other Tall types.  Therefore, hybrids between Brown Dwarf x Sri Lanka Tall and its reciprocal and Brown Dwarf x San Ramon werenewly released significant varieties. All multi-locational fields established in different agro-ecological regions revealed that 40 – 50% yield increase is possible over traditional coconut varieties. The recent advancement is the crossing between different Dwarf types (Dwarf x Dwarf) is able to meet home garden conditions and to develop of coconut water as a natural drink. A comprehensive breeding programme is also progressing for two biotic stresses; namely to produce tolerance for coconut aceria mite and phytoplasma caused Weligama coconut Wilt and Rot Disease. 

For the development of Farming Systems in coconut lands, priority has given for agroforestry activities. Those are coconut based annual crops, perennial crops, silvopastoral system, NF’s based system, coastal system, home garden system, alley cropping and cover crop agroforestry system. Renewable energy production is well-developed using animal based farming systems including fuel wood trees such as gliricidia.  A model developed by the CRISL showed the Coconut + Gliricidia + natural pasture + supplemented paddy strawfeeding for buffalo was able to produce green energy equivalent to 5,000 unit of electricity (kWh). 

Technological development on agronomy and plant nutrition are also discussed. 

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