Monday, June 2, 2008

Junagadh Agriculture University JAU Saurashtra Gujarat India

The overy of a rare coconut tree species here has raised hopes for double yield of the fruit for cultivators in Saurashtra.

Like all palms, coconut trees have a single trunk and are without any branches. But the new species has around two to four branches, making it the rarest of its kind.

Last seen in the Ivory Coast in 2006, this di-headed palm, as it is being called by the local experts, has been cultivated by a small-time farmer, Vinja Selar, in Krisi village of Porbandar district.

“Four of the coconut trees I planted seven years back have developed multiple branches. Two of them have two branches and the other two, four branches. The yield from the multiple branched trees is also double the regular ones,” said Selar.

Porbandar district Horticulture officer M D Dhorajia said:

“A regular coconut tree gives around 20-25 nuts per season. But the di-headed variety produces nearly 40 nuts per season. In India, varieties like Dwaraf, Lotan, Bona and Hybrid are commonly found. But all the varieties known so far have only one trunk and are without any branches.”

Selar has now begun procedures to get a patent for the tree and given the nod to scientists at the Junagadh Agriculture University to conduct a research on it.

“The Horticulture department got in touch with the university, which has shown a keen interest in conducting a research. Soon, a joint research by the department and the university would begin,” said Dhorajia.

“This is the first time we have come across such a variety in India,” he said, adding they would now conduct research into all aspects of the tree like the size of the nuts, colour, the taste of water and oil content.

He said if the tests give a positive result, the department and the university would take initiative to promote the new variety among the local cultivators.

Selar and the scientists are, however, both puzzled as to how a regular seedling developed into a rare variety. “I don't know how this happened. I have been trying to grow more trees of the same variety,” said Selar.

“It's very difficult to say how a rare variety evolved from a regular seedling. We hope to learn the transition during research,” said Dhorajia.

Selar further said his 20-bigha farm has over 100 coconut trees, but these four are special.

Coconut is grown along the 1,600 km long Saurashtra coastline and covers districts like Porbandar, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Amreli.

In 2007-2008, coconut cultivation in Saurashtra covered over 560 hectares and the total production was around 42 lakh nuts.

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