By Kaushalendra Singh -
SALALAH — The Ministry of Agriculture procured 11 new varieties of coconut from Cote de’Ivoire (South Africa) and planted them during the last khareef season.
With this the agriculture scientists are hoping good quality coconuts in terms of quality and quantity in the years to come, as these varieties of coconut are mite resistant.
The Agriculture Research Centre in Salalah has successfully tackled the coconut mite problem by adopting scientific measures and raising awareness among the farmers.
Anwar Ahmed Bait Fadhil, Fruit Researcher at the Agriculture Research Centre in Salalah, is hopeful of tackling the coconut mite issue with these new varieties. “We did an intensive research after the coconut mite attack and found the varieties from Cotede’ Ivoire mite resistant and comparatively better in farm output. The success rate of these plants is also encouraging,” he said.
Anwar showed a presentation on the coconut mite at the Agriculture Research Centre pavilion at the recently concluded Salalah Tourism Festival ground where the Research Centre participated with programmes, activities and awareness drives for farmers.
The experts from the ministry explained to the visitors, ways to improve farm productivity, proper use of fertlisers and pesticides as also tackling the problems of coconut mite and papaya mealybug.
In his explanation Anwar made it clear that the mite attack on coconut was limited only to the fruit bark and not at all on the pulp and its milk.
“It is a kind of cosmetic issue with the coconut, as the fruit remains tasty, sweet and healthy despite the mite attack.”
The coconut mite or AceriaguerreronisKeifer attacks young fruits of the coconut palm, to which it is almost exclusively confined. The mites are small but they often build up extremely large and dense populations.
They use the bark as their food which causes scarring and distortion of the fruits and in some cases cause premature fruit drop.
The mite was first reported in Gurrero, Mexico and now found in most of the coconut producing areas in South Asia, Central and South Africa, including the Gulf region. In Dhofar it was reported in the late 1980s.
“Agriculture scientists from all the affected countries are sharing information with each other to handle the issue in a positive manner,” said Anwar.
The Salalah Agriculture Research Station has been successfully handling the problem with the completion of a five-year programme. The programme has been extended for one more year.
The Research Station has developed an Integrated
Pest Management (IPM)
plan with emphasis on biological control using predators etc.
The mite problem is tackled strategically by understanding the coconut mites’ ecology, distribution and business as also by developing good plant protection and production practices.