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03.08.2005 General News

Coconut disease brings hardships to farmers


Kusi (E/R), Aug 03, GNA - About 11,000 hectares of coconut farms have been devastated by the Cape St. Paul Wilt disease, bringing economic hardships to about 10,000 households, mainly in coastal communities.

The disease, which was first discovered in Ghana in 1932, had defied all attempts at control.

The Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at Kusi in the Eastern Region had, in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), identified a tolerant coconut variety that had led to the launching of a rehabilitation project for the coconut industry. A spokesman for the OPRI at Kusi in the Kwaebibrim District praised the French government for funding research and development effort towards solving the problems of the coconut industry. He said the French government recently made available an amount of 1,290,000 Euros to support agronomical research including the coconut sector.

''With the development of the disease-tolerant coconut hybrids, the industry is being given a new lease of life.'' Farms are being replanted at the rate of 400 hectares a year with the new variety the Coconut Sector Development Programme is supplying. It is projected that by 2007, at least 1,000 hectares a year of the disease-devastated farms would have been replanted. In addition, the spokesman said, the OPRI has been giving technical support to the Coconut Sector Development Project to rehabilitate the coconut industry.

The OPRI has devised a modified controlled pollination system for the production of Vanuatu, a tall seed-nut that is a key variety in the development of the tolerant type for planting. It has set up a pollinator garden to produce the coconut pollen requirements of the country with effect from 2006 to save the over 40,000 dollars per year in pollen imports.