Jan 6, 2016

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.