PCAARRD sees technology for coconut mass propagation promising

By , on August 19, 2015


A laboratory technician develops coconut tissue culture through somatic embryogenesis. This is an alternative technique for mass propagation of coconut (Photo from the Crops Research Division of PCAARRD)
A laboratory technician develops coconut tissue culture through somatic embryogenesis. This is an alternative technique for mass propagation of coconut (Photo from the Crops Research Division of PCAARRD)

MANILA – The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) sees the coconut somatic embryogenesis technology (Cset), a technology for coconut mass propagation, a promising one, and thus funds this project.

The project targets to address the huge need for quality planting materials in the country.

Researchers from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), University of the Philippines (UP), Bicol University (BU) and Visayas State University (VSU) are currently testing and evaluating the Cset.

According to PCA, the industry deals with the problem on low productivity of existing coconut stands – covering about 500,000 hectares of old and senile trees. The PCA also reported that another hindrance is the fact that coconuts are produced mainly through seednut germination or embryo culture technique with one seedling per seednut or per embryo rating.

Thus, Cset is seen as hope to boost the Philippine coconut industry. This technology will lead to a rapid mass propagation of superior genetic stocks for high yield, pest and disease resistance and high value products.

Moreover, Cset will serve as an alternative technique that would also involve the use of immature flowers, immature embryos and plumule or the meristematic part of the embryo.

The PCA noted that with a high seednut requirement needed for vast area of coconut plantations, new approaches are really needed to meet the requirement in the most effective way possible.

Meanwhile, as of July, the researchers reported that among the explants tested, the plumule was found to be more responsive to in vitro manipulation for the micropropagation of coconut than immature flowers and leaves.

PCAARRD said the protocol is currently being enhanced to attain as much as 1,000 seedlings per plumule through using explants from high-yielding tall and dwarf coconut varieties.

The council further explained that by using planting materials derived from Cset, the existing old and senile coconut trees, typhoon-damaged, and insect-infested palms will be replaced with more productive trees.

As of last month, the highest multiplication rate that could be attained is 80–120 seedlings per plumule. PCAARRD considers this result very promising, especially if one will compare it to traditional mass propagation techniques.

Farmers from coconut-growing areas and suitable coastal areas in Regions 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, and 12 are expected to highly benefit from the Cset.

PCAARRD also noted its commitment to alleviate poverty in the agriculture and aquatic sectors.