The National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) is in the process of finalising a 2020 plan that will address replenishing the ageing coconut plantation industry as there is an urgent need to replant with improved varieties.
NAREI CEO Dr Oudho Homenauth made this announcement during a recent interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), a report said. He said that the plan will examine replenishing the coconut industry through improving the varieties or through fertilisation and the management of pests and diseases. It will also examine maintaining the estates.
Meanwhile, this year the institute will focus on a number of areas to advance the industry such as improving the quality of virgin coconut oil, sourcing equipment for processing for small groups, certifying the product and examining the production of coconut powder, not just coconut milk.
Attention is also being given to managing pests and diseases that attack the coconut plant. Currently, NAREI is working, in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organisa-tion (FAO), in Wakenaam treating the red palm mite infestation there. Accord-ing to Dr Homenauth, the institute is trying to control and manage the disease by initially employing chemical control though the long-term goal is to rear natural enemies such as lacewing beetles that would feed on the mites.
Over the years government has taken steps to revive the industry through workshops, exhibitions and training since its aim is to resuscitate it to such a level that it will create jobs.
Government has been pursuing support from India and several South American countries in this endeavour, particularly to obtain new varieties. It has been receiving support from the FAO and the Government of India in making the industry more vibrant and competitive.