Darwin Initiative "Upgrading and broadening the new South-Pacific International Coconut Genebank"

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  Irrigation Plantation
(Image: R.Bourdeix)

The International Coconut Genetic Resources Network (COGENT) is pleased to announce the cooptation of a new country member. The Sultanate of Oman is a Middle Eastern country and has a wonderfully contrasting landscape; from mountains to sea, from to desert to greenery. The Dhofar plain located in the corner of Oman’s southwest comprises fertile lands and makes the country suitable for growing coconut trees and other tropical fruits.

In Oman, coconut has a centuries-long history linked with the socio-economic concerns of communities resident in the Dhofar governorate, therefore there are several agricultural authorities dealing with coconut development services in Oman. Indeed (Cocos nucifera) is an economically important crop in the Sultanate of Oman. This country contains about 200,000 coconut palms and around 91% of these are located on the Dhofar plain. Between 1983 and 1988 several new coconut varieties were imported from Sri Lanka and Malaysia via the ministry of agriculture and fisheries.

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Salalah Agricultural Research Station (SARS)
(Image: R.Bourdeix)
 

The Salalah agricultural research station (SARS) relies on the support of the ministry of agriculture and fisheries, and is dedicated to plant production and protection. Oman’s current main trial is linked to the integrated management project on coconut mite (Aceria guerreronis).This program includes a research protocol for the conservation and enrichment of the coconut germplasm in Dhofar. It consists of identifying local coconut varieties, introducing new coconut varieties and screening for resistance of coconut varieties to the coconut mite. The Omani strategy for conserving traditional tall varieties involves avoiding contamination by imported varieties, providing good quality coconut seed nuts for Omani farmers and enriching germplasm, leading to breeding new varieties.