Experts to conduct coconut gene bank audit

Experts to conduct coconut gene bank audit

The International Coconut Community has decided to conduct a coconut gene bank audit during in its meeting held in Thailand recently, said CPCRI Kasargod Director Dr P Chowdappa.

Accordingly, the steering committee of experts has been constituted who will visit the ICAR-CPCRI Research Centre, Kidu, which houses one of the five largest coconut gene banks in the world. The others are in Brazil, Indonesia, Ivory Coast and Papua New Guinea.

Barring Kidu, all the other four gene banks are on the verge of closing down due to factors like diseases and urbanisation.

Of the 453 coconut germplasm at Kidu, 95 are exotic (from outside India).

The gene bank audit will ascertain whether the gene banks are serving the community and whether the germplasms are used for developing new varieties of the plants, he added.

“Compare to the remaining four coconut gene banks, the gene bank at Kidu is performing well. If we are able to impress upon the experts on our performance, then we may be considered for funding. Once we get the funding, we will be able to expand the area,” Dr Chowdappa said.

Established in 1972, the research centre at Kidu has irreplaceable genetic resources and elite parental lines of coconut, arecanut and cocoa, including the world’s largest collection of coconut genetic resources.

Over the years, the institute has conserved a total of 455 coconut accessions, 176 arecanut accessions and 505 cocoa accessions which are being evaluated in the field of gene banks.

On an average, every year, the centre is producing 58,000 seed nuts of different coconut varieties, about 4.36 lakh seed nuts and 30,000 seedlings of arecanut and 2,000 seedlings of seed pod of cocoa for meeting the planting material requirement of different stakeholders, he explained.

He further said that the centre generates Rs 1.3 crore in revenue annually.

Explaining the value addition to arecanuts, Dr Chowdappa said that the CPCRI is working on arecanut toothpaste, soap and nail polish as well.

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