Jan 2, 2016

Coconut in situ conservation in Vietnam: a potential for developing new R&D projects

In Vietnam, about five thousand coconut palms have been identified by IOOP, around 1000 in each of 5 provinces: Ben Tre, Tien Giang; Tra Vinh, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen. About 40 to 50 farmers were selected by province. All palms have been geo referenced.
Satellite images illustrating the location of 3000 palms geo referenced in farmer's fields
from the whole country to the farms levels
Presently the data collected in farms is mainly the identity and localisation of the farmers, the variety and the individual level of production of the palms. For developing an in situ conservation approach, it could be very interesting to collect more data about these farmers. A first approach could be to use the International descriptors list conceived under the leadership of Bioversity International. A second approach could be to collect more data on the social habits of farmers and their traditional practices and knowledge, such as for example those developed in the framework of the REPROCROP project.

See the technical movie made from the training: how to transfer the field data to Google Earth Pro by using Qgis software.

As pointed out in a recent publication (1), many current coconut research and development programmes are impacting conservation beyond genebanks and farmer’s knowledge on the reproductive biology of their crops. Most of these programmes do not mention it explicitly. Although not yet mentioned, the R&D actions undertaken by IOOP has an implicit but obvious positive effect on the sustainability of coconut in situ conservation in Vietnam. So why not to mention it and to develop it accordingly? Thus, including the conservation of genetic resources as one of the explicit objectives of such programmes will increase the commitment of both the scientific community and decision makers, and will result in a win-win situation.

Seednuts are sold from farmers to farmers, and sometimes bought by the institute or by the governments of the provinces and then redistributed to other farmers. It was not yet estimated how many seednuts were sold from farmers to farmers and to local Governments.

(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.

How to turn a coconut farmer's field into a polyvalent seed garden producing Hybrid, Tall and Dwarf varieties

The third recommendation endorsed during the 2012 COGENT Steering Committee Meeting was to encourage local stakeholders (men and women farmers, private enterprise, NGOs and CBOs) to become more involved in supplying quality planting material, and to teach farmers and other stakeholders how to autonomously produce quality seedlings of hybrids and other varieties, using the Polymotu concept or any other adopted method (Bourdeix and Allou, 2012a).

Here is a simple method to turn part of a farmer's field into a seed garden designed for producing both Hybrid, Tall and Dwarf seedlings. This method is to be published soon in a CPCRI book (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.)

Figure 1. Example of a part of a farmer's field to be turn into a Polyvalent Seed Garden
The following steps are proposed:

1) At the beginning, the field is planted with Brown, Green-Brown and Green palms from a traditional Tall variety.

2) Cut all brown and green-brown colored palms and keep only the green-colored ones.

3) Plant Malayan Red Dwarf and Green Tall varieties to replace the removed Talls. Start to collect data of the remaining old green Talls, for about two years.

4) Two years later, when the first dwarfs will be close to flowering, and according to the result of this characterization, remove at least half of the green-colored Talls and keep only the best. This will improve the value of both Tall and hybrid seednuts.

5) Plant again Red Dwarfs and/or selected Green Talls on the available space.

Steps 1 and 2 can be conducted either successively or either in a more progressive way: for economic reasons, it could be envisioned to plant first the Dwarfs under the existing Talls, and to remove the brown and green-brown Talls only one or two year later, when the Dwarf will be close to flowering.
This design was presented by using as parent the Malayan Red Dwarf which is a strongly autogamous variety. For producing hybrids seednuts, this dwarf variety needs to be emasculated. Other Red Dwarf varieties could also be used instead of the Malayan. Some varieties especially interesting are the Allogamous Compact Red Dwarf recently discovered in French Polynesia and Fiji. By using such allogamous Dwarf, it could be expected to produce up to 50% hybrid seednuts without making any emasculation; such an economy of labour and manpower could allow to strongly reduce the cost of hybrid coconut seednuts.