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New coconut yields high

09/25/2010

A new coconut variety that can yield as many as 150 nuts per tree in one year was showcased at the recent coconut festival and trade fair held at the SM Megamall recently. This is the Orgullo Tall, a synthetic San Ramon variety that was developed by the breeding and genetics division headed by Ramon Rivera of the San Ramon Experiment Station of the Philippine Coconut Administration in Zamboanga City.

According to Ernesto Emmanuel who was tending the exhibit booth at the trade fair, San Ramon Orgullo Tall is a combination of 15 different coconut hybrids that evolved from plantings starting 1992.

After many years of observation, the high-yielding trees were identified and selected for multiplication.
Being a synthetic variety, the nuts produced could be used for planting. In five years, the tree has been observed to start flowering in Mindanao. However, some plants planted in Lucena City have been reported to start flowering in just three and a half years from planting.

The yield ranges from 60 to 150 nuts per tree per year or an average of 105 per tree. This is significantly higher than the average of 80 nuts produced by most other varieties grown in the country. Orgullo Tall yields higher than other varieties because it can produce 17 flower bunches in one year compared to the usual 12 of other varieties.

The nuts weigh from 1.5 to 2 kilos each. The copra yield per nut ranges from 280 to 440 grams. One hectare can yield from 3.2 to 6.7 tons of copra which sells for P28 per kilo at present. That’s a gross of P89,600 to P187,600 at current prices.

In the meantime, PCA Administrator Oscar G. Garin stressed the need to focus on the production of high-value products from coconut. He explained that although millions of new seedlings have been planted in the past couple of years, it will take some time before they become productive. Meantime, entrepreneurs should produce more high-value products that have a ready market here and abroad.
One of the hot coconut products today, he said, is coconut sugar. This is the sugar derived from the sap of the unopened flowers of the coconut. This is a superior sugar compared to the sugar derived from sugarcane. It has been clinically proven that coco sugar has a low glycemic food index so that it is one kind of sugar that is very healthy to take. It is recommended for those suffering from diabetes as well as those who would like to avoid the disease.

While there is an increasing number of entrepreneurs producing coco sugar, the production is not enough to meet the big demand in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

Garin challenged investors to get into the production of coconut sugar. He suggested that for this type of venture, the dwarf coconut varieties should be planted. He said that there are a number of coconut varieties like Tacunan which could be planted for coco sugar production. He pointed out that it will be  much easier to harvest the coconut sap from dwarf coconut trees.

One of the pioneers in coconut sugar production is Luisa Molo from Linabo, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. She started making coconut sugar in 2000 and has been producing this up to this day. She says three workers are collecting coconut sap for her from 60 trees in her own farm. The workers collect 24 gallons of sap every day which she cooks into coco sugar. Two gallons of sap make one kilo of coco sugar which she sells at P200 per kilo.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rolando Dy of the University of Asia and the Pacific bewailed the very small budget allocated by the government in support of the coconut industry. Compared to rice which receives government support of P15,000 per hectare, the budget for coconut is only P200. He batted for the diversification of income sources for farmers to ensure food security. In his speech at the coconut festival, he pointed out that only adequate income of farmers can ensure their food security.

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