Jan 13, 2016

General overview

This website gathers the information exchanged during two scientific visits conducted in 1998 and 2016 on behalf the Government of Vietnam, the Institute of Oil and Oil Plants (IOOP) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD). The following topics are (or will be soon) presented:

CIRAD GIS training in Vietnam: summary and planning
The Institute for Oil and Oil Plants (IOOP)
The Dong Go Coconut Research Centre
The Trang Bang Seed Production Centre
The IOOP in Vitro Culture Laboratory for producing Makapuno seedlings
A traditional practice: "Coconut Bonsai" for reducing the vertical growth of Tall-type coconut palms.
Coconut varieties conserved in the National Genebank of Vietnam
Coconut varieties from farmer's fields
Old botanical and ethnological studies related to Coconut in Vietnam
Coconut high value products and handicraft from Vietnam
How to sustain Coconut in situ conservation in Vietnam
How to turn a coconut farmer's field into a polyvalent seed garden producing Hybrid, Tall and Dwarf varieties

Link to the video playlist made for the training

The first Kobotool box survey test conceived during the training and how to access it on a mobile phone.

Filling a boat with coconut in Ben Tré. Photo R. Bourdeix, 2016. 
Link to this website prepared by Ms Ngo Thi Kieu Duong, Head of the Perennial Crop Department of the Research Institute for Oil and Oil Plants (IOOP) and Dr Roland Bourdeix:

CIRAD Coconut GIS training in Vietnam: summary and planning

Dr Roland Bourdeix (CIRAD) was invited by the Department of Perennial Crop from the Research Institute for Oil and Oil Plants (IOOP) to organize a training on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) applied to coconut research and development.

Fourteen IOOP researchers and technical staff participated the training. The programme was intended to provide a global overview of the use of GIS in coconut research, and more specifically on the following points: 1) Multi functional landscape management and new trends in coconut conservation and breeding 2) collecting germplasm and integrate geographical and other data using the CGRD (Coconut Genetic Resources Database) and Kobotool box which allows to collect data from cell phones; 3) Managing ex situ genebank accessions and field’s experiment using CDM (coconut data management) and Microsoft Foxpro; 4) the Qgis and Diva-GIS software for managing geographical information. 5) Maxent to predict favorable cultivation zones and 6) Google Earth and other online tools for making interactive geographical representations. All the cited software except Bandicam and Foxpro are free or kindly provided by CIRAD; most of them are open source. Researchers were also trained to video making using Bandicam and Microsoft Movie Maker. Field visits were conducted in research centres and farmer's fields to test the gathering of data with android cell phones, and to prepare a project on assessing a traditional technique from Mekong farmers for reducing the vertical growth of coconut palms. About 10 GB of HD video shootings has been taken and a copy was let to IOOP. A short movie was co-produced during the training. Most of collected information was released online at the URL: http://coconutvietnam.blogspot.fr. Many of the new concept and ideas presented during this training comes from a recent book chapter (1) of an Indian CPCRI book and from the compilation of the Global Strategy for Conservation and Use of Coconut Genetic Resources, all in press. The training was prepared with the help of Dr Geo Coppens and Gaëlle Viennois, CIRAD researchers, and following a dedicated training provided by the CMAEE Join Research Unit in Montpellier, France. 

Day 1 - 18/01/2016

  • Presentation of CIRAD and its Joint Research Unit AGAP
  • Presentation of the provisional planning of the training
  • Generalities on coconut research in link with GIS; collecting germplasm; management of field data in ex situ gene banks; in situ conservation and multi functional landscape management; production of seed nut by farmers.
  • The CGRD (coconut genetic resources database) - how to extract latitude and longitude data
  • The use of CDM (Coconut Data Management by CIRAD)
  • The use of Maxent for predicting coconut cultivation zones
Day 2 - 19/01/2016

  • Use of Kobotool box software to collect data on Cell phones
  • Continuation on Kobotool box
  • Continuation on CDM
  • Use of Google Earth Pro

Day 3 -20/01/2016

  • Field visit of the Trang Bang Coconut Research Centre
  • Field visit of coconut farms and test of the kobotool box kit
  • Making geo-referenced videos and photos for transferring on line (Panoramio, Youtube, Google Earth)
Day 4 -21/01/2016
  • The software Qgis and Diva-Gis for managing GIS information
  • Continuation on Qgis and Diva-gis for managing GIS information. Using data from Vietnam researchers
  • Overview of CIRAD work on remote sensing techniques for detecting coconut palms
Day 5 -22/01/2015

  • Fields visits to Dong Go Coconut Research Centre. Test of Kobotool Box software.
  • Making geo-referenced videos and photos for transferring on line (Panoramio, Youtube, Google Earth)
Day 6 - 23/01/2016 (Saturday)

  • Visit of special coconut cultivation methods using salt tolerant coconut varieties for development in shrimp breeding sites. Genetic experiment for varietal tolerance to salinity.
  • Video shooting
Day 7 - 24/01/2016 (Sunday)

  • Visit of Kairong floating market and farmer’s fields.
  • Back to Ben Tré. 
  • Visit of Hung Phong community producing high-value coconut products and survey of  techniques for reducing the vertical growth of Tall-type coconut palms. Video shooting.
  • Back to Ho Chi Minh
Day 8 - 25/01/2016

  • Training of video making using Bandicam and Microsoft Movie Maker
  • Cleaning of Video shootings
  • Co-production of a short movie on a traditional technique for reducing the vertical growth of tall type coconut palms.
Day 9 - 26/01/2016


    • Open discussion and end of the training
    • Closing dinner with officials of IOOP and the Ministry of

    A list of the Fourteen IOOP researchers and technical staff who participated the training is available here. 


    (1) Bourdeix R., Perera L., Rivera R.L., Saena-Tuia V and Masumbuko L. 2016. Global coconut communities - status and strategies in in situ diversity management and utilization. In: Coconut: Global status and perspectives. Central Plantation Crop Research Institute, Kasaragod, India. Submitted.

    Jan 11, 2016

    "Coconut bonzai": reducing the vertical growth of Tall-type coconut palms

    A traditional practice from farmers of the Mekong Delta

    This video can be see in HD or any lower resolution, please choose the best option according to the quality of your connection. Also available on the website of Diversiflora International

    In 1998, in the framework of an expertise on collecting strategies (Bourdeix et al, 1999[i]), the island of Hung Phong (01008N 10622E) in Mekong Delta was visited. While interacting with farmers, it appeared that what farmers called “Dwarf’ and “Tall” coconut palms did not fit with what was described in all other countries. More precisely, some coconut palms described by farmers as “Tall-types” had the typical stem of what is normally called “Dwarf”: a thin stem without any basal bulb, and very short internodes.
    We finally find an explanation (see fig. 1 and 2). In this island, farmers had a very special traditional practice, never described before (as far as we know).  

    Figure 1. View of different coconut stems. From left to right: Malayan Dwarf, Compact Dwarf, Indo-Atlantic Tall, Asian-Pacific Tall types of coconut varieties (Photos R. Bourdeix, Côte d’Ivoire).
    When 2 years old, the young tall coconut palm is removed from the ground, its roots and leaves are cut and, after that, the palm is planted again in the ground. Such palm will develop stem similar to those of Dwarf cultivars: no bole, very short internode distance and slow vertical growth. Farmers said that this practice causes a delay of about one year on the starting of production but does not affect the future performance of the palms.

    Figure 2. View of different coconut stems in Mekong Delta. Normal stem of a Tall-type coconut palm (left) in comparison with same variety treated for reducing growth (Photo R. Bourdeix, Vietnam).

    It could be very useful to to scientifically assess this traditional practice, for both extending the lifespan of accessions in ex situ Coconut field genebanks, and for proposing a new ways of cultivation making harvest and field management more convenient and safe.

    [i] Bourdeix, R., Baudouin, L., Ollivier, J., Labouisse, J.-P., 1999. COGENT consultancy report on coconut collecting strategy. CIRAD. Montpellier, France,

    Jan 9, 2016

    Kobotool Box for GIS training Vietnam

    KoBoToolbox is a suite of tools for field data collection for use in challenging environments, allowing to collect data using cell phones and tablets. The software is free and open source. Most of the  users are people working in humanitarian crises, as well as aid professionals and researchers working in developing countries. The team of developers and researchers are based in Cambridge, MA, as well as Colorado, Canada, and Chile.

    A google account was specially created for conducting this test (roland2016gis@gmail.com); Then a form for managing seed mother palms in farmers fields was developpend with the following data:
    • Palm number (so thu tu)
    • Name of farmer (ho va ten chu ho)
    • Group (Ap)
    • Community (Xa)
    • District (Huyen)
    • Province (Tinh)
    • Date of visit (Ngaybinhtuyen)
    • Surveyor name (Nguoibinhtuyen)
    • Coconut variety (Giong)
    • Stem marking (Ky hieu)
    • Longitude (kinhdodong)
    • Latitude (vidobac)
    • Nut/tree/year (trai/cay/nam)

    Collect Data on Any Device in Your Browser
    Code for first survey
    For iPhones or any other device that has a Web browser, use the following link to enter data - even offline:


    (Or if you have a barcode scanner
     on your phone, just scan the barcode
    on the right)

    Three videos to see:

    More videos avalaible on Youtube Kobotool box Channel

    Jan 6, 2016

    The Research Institute for Oil and Oil Plants (IOOP)

    Institute for Oil and Oil Plants (IOOP) 171 - 175 Ham Nghi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam.

    Mission and potential:
    • R&D, application, transfer R&D products derived from research activities that relevant to oils and oil plants, bio-fuel plants, essential oils and materials for oil-processing plant.
    • Production and doing business on oil crop seeds, essential oil seeds, bio-fuel plant seeds.
    • Formulation and design of oil crop development strategies, technical and investment feasibility studies.
    • Improve yield, production, quality of oil crops, essential oil crops, bio-fuel crops, ex-situ and on-farm conservation of these plant genetic resources.
    • Organize science services, technology transfering, trainings, production and doing business that are relevant to oils and oil plants, oil processing plant, consultancy work …
    • Quality analysis of oil and oil crop products, essential oil products for scientific research and quality management.
    • Cooperate with local and international partners to do research, production and trading oleochemicals products, oil plants and essential oils.

    The Dong Go Coconut Research Centre

    The Dong Go Coconut Research Centre

    Latitude: 10.21644 Longitude: 106.44994

    Satellite image of the Dong Go Research Centre

    Entrance of Dong Go Research Centre
    The centre was visited on 22 and 23th January 2016. It hosts the National Coconut Genebank of Vietnam.

    Each tall-type coconut accessions is composed of palms of different ages; the palms are progressively replaced when the first palms dye. The technique to replace the missing palms is based on open pollination within a block composed of different populations of the same variety (for instance Ta Tall). Inter cropping is conducted with various other crops, such as Jack fruit, Papaya, etc... Palms are numbered by a number of row, and a number of palm in the row painted on the stem.

    We made an almost complete tour at the borders of the gene bank. At North the centre is delimited by a road and a fence with some open entrance; at South is is delimited by a canal with no fence. At the east side, it is delimited by a small road with no fence, so people may easily come in  the gene bank and take coconuts. At the west side it is delimited by house, some of them used by the employees of the gene bank. Land tenure could become a problem. In the  past, about a sixth of the available land of the centre (on the West side) was already taken back by the local government  to conduct other activities.

    The centre presently serves as a gene bank only for coconut palm. It is advised to strengthen the involvement of the centre in conserving other tree crops. This option has several advantages, including to:
    •           Increase the global commitment to promote the importance of the gene bank. If more than one crop is conserved, gene bank will become increasingly mandatory and committed places for conservation of genetic resources. 
    •           Increase the visiting frequency to the gene bank. Researchers working in genetic resources of different crops will meet more frequently, exchange more information, and cooperate more closely.
    •           Make at least part of the gene bank closer to the planting systems used locally by farmers, as many of them practice inter cropping.
    •           Ensure a better agronomic management, especially for inter cropped fields that often require irrigation facilities and higher fertilization and will serve as demonstration fields.
    •           Benefit from the multi functional use of the landscape. Some coconut plantations, especially seed gardens, are generally surrounded by other tree crops for pollen isolation purposes. Instead of planting any tree crops, these buffers areas can also conserve genetic resources of appropriate species.

    A good opportunity could be to extend conservation activities in Dong Go to many other palm species. A large plot and part of the swampy areas could be planted with at least 20 other palms species. When adult, part of these palms could be sold to city and tourism landscaping units who generally buy such palm at a very good price (about 100 USD per meter of stem), and regularly replaced.
    Conversely, coconut conservation could also be integrated into many other agricultural research centres’ programmes within the tropics. Thousands of coconut palms are planted in these research centres without considering genetic resources and diversity aspects. Thus, developing multi functional land use is one of the highest priorities, and hence has thus recently been included as a new theme of the CGIAR research programme Forests Trees and Agroforests (FTA).
    For instance, in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, the CNRA is starting to implement this last approach by duplicating accessions of the International Coconut collection in Côte d’Ivoire. Simulated “coconut islands” will be planted in five of the 13 CNRA research centres scattered around the country. Coconut germplasm will be planted in isolated small units of about one hectare, each conserving only one Tall-type accession and each planted in reproductive isolation in the middle of other tree-crop plantations.

    Controlled Pollination Technique

    During the past 5 years, the technique of controlled pollination with bagging was not applied in Dong Go Research Centre. Some material remains, such as aluminium isolation box and green bags (French type). All experimentation were conducted using the techniques of open (natural) pollination and assisted pollination (emasculation of dwarf inflorescence in the seed garden and pulverization of pollen coming from another palm). The seed gardens, both in Dong go and Trang Bang, are not isolated by a sufficient buffer zone preventing pollen from outside to reach emasculated inflorescences. So it is advised to use the controlled pollination technique with bagging for research and rejuvenation purposes and to isolate the seed garden with large tree crops for improving the quality of the hybrid seed nuts.

    Jan 5, 2016

    The Trang Bang Seed Production Centre

    The Trang Bang Seed Production Centre was created in 1986.

    The Aromatic Green Dwarf Variety in the Seed Garden
    Many seednuts and seedlings of Aromatic
    are available for sale in Trang Bang
    There are two different blocks.
    Block 1: Latitude:   11.154703°; Longitude: 106.362496°
    Block 2: Latitude:  11.145110° Longitude: 106.375196°

    We made Polygones giving the areas:

    Block 1: 98.6 ha estimated
    Block 2: 8.97 ha estimated

    View of block 1 and 2

    Superposition with map

    Here is the first map

    Map of Trang bang seed garden block 1

    The image adress to use on google earth is:


    The coconut varieties cultivated in the seed garden are mainly Aromatic Green Dwarf (imported long time ago from Thailand); Macapuno tall from embryo vitro culture; hybrids between Malayan Red and Yellow Dwarfs  and Makapuno Tall (pollen imported from the Philippines). During the period 2011-2015, about 160 000 seedlings were produced y IOOP seedgarden. Presently the cost of seednuts is partially supported by the government and they are sold to Vietnamese farmers at 2 USD per piece. Be care that the germination rate of the Aromatic Green Dwarf is generally lower than those of most other Dwarf coconut varieties, and that only 50 to 60% of the AROD seednuts will finally give good seedlings to be planted in the field.

    A plot of Malayan Yellow Dwarf (MYD) is designed for production of DxT hybrids. The pollen used is from the Hijo Tall variety (imported from the Philippines). This seed garden is not surrounded by a sufficient zone serving as a pollen barrier; such a barrier could be made for instance with forest trees, rubber or other tree crops. So contamination may occurs, and part of the seed nuts released are probably crosses of the MYD with the Aromatic Green Dwarf.

    Trang Bang coconut Seed garden

    In some emasculated MYD inflorescences, we saw a strange accumulation of dried sap at the bottom of the female flowers. This could be due to insect attacks. The same was also observed on a Xiem Green Dwarf in an hotel of Ben tre city, so it seems that this pest is widely distributed.

    A few MYD palms have a strange habit of the terminal parts of the upper leaves. Boron deficiency was suggested as the cause but, in the opinion of Dr R. Bourdeix, it is very rare to observe boron deficiency on adult palms.

    The seed garden is far from the see and some problems of Chlorine deficiency may happen. It is advised to sometimes provide salt to palms to avoid this problem.

    A MYD palm in the seed garden is branched (two heads). It is quite rare to observe this phenomenon in Dwarf types.

    Coconut palms are inter cropped with commercial Jack fruit trees, and some large new plots are inter planted with dragon fruit and coconut palms. Some plots are planted with rubber trees. In the future, it could be useful to plant germplasm collection of jack fruit, Dragon fruits and other crops instead of commercial material only. This will need agreements between the various Vietnamese institutions presently working separately on different crops.

    Aromatic coconut and Jack Fruit intercropped in Trang Bang

    Coconut and Dragon fruit intercropped in Trang Bang