As much as 300 seedlings can now be obtained from just one coconut.
This is made possible by coconut somatic embryogenesis technology (CSet), a research initiative supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
The idea is to generate not one planting material from one coconut, the way it is done now, but at least 100 planting materials and up to a thousand from the same one coconut or one coconut plumule, the primary bud of a coconut embryo.
Science Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena said the research program in collaboration with the PCA research center in San Ramon is one of six simultaneous projects doing the same research optimizing CSet.
“We have attained a range of 100 to 300 planting materials for every matured coconut,” he said.
The highest yield has been attained at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) but researches at different centers are leading towards high numbers of planting materials, Dela Pena said.
Using genetic materials from high-yielding tall and dwarf varieties, the target is 1,000 seedlings from one coconut plumule.
“Imagine the impact on the coconut replanting program,” Dela Pena said, adding it means fast-tracking the replacement of old coconut trees with new, high quality, high vigor coconuts.
He said coconut replanting is not so aggressive because of the lack of planting materials, so yields are going down, among the many factors. Another is the low price of copra and coconut.
Dela Pena said DOST is working on value-adding to coconut products.
Nearly four million farmers now plant coconuts; the yields, however are low at 46 nuts per tree per year from old stands. Typhoons that devastate coconut plantations contribute to the low production in the Visayas and Mindanao while coconut scale insect infestation is the culprit in Southern Tagalog.
The DOST is supporting coconut somatic embryogenesis technology research for the fast and mass propagation of superior coconut genetic stocks.
Somatic embryogenesis is an artificial process in which a plant or embryo is derived from a single somatic cell. These “somatic embryos” are formed from plant cells that are not normally involved in the development of embryos. That is, no endosperm or seed coat is formed around a somatic embryo.