Taveuni Coconut Centre
Mr Tevita Kete
Niu Leka Dwarf (NLAD)
Fiji is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean east of Vanuatu, west of Tonga and south of Tuvalu. The country occupies an archipelago of about 322 islands, of which 106 are permanently inhabited, and 522 islets. The two major islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu which account for 87% of the population.
Whilst the first hand pollinations were done in India in 1920, the first hybridization between ecotypes has been attributed to Marechal, who in 1926 crossed the Malayan Red Dwarf with the Niu Leka Dwarf in the Fiji islands. Unfortunately, his work did not survive the 1929 economic crisis and the pedigree of the hybrids was lost.
Although coconut does not belong to the nation’s top-ten crops according to FAO 2007 statistics, there are around 50 000 hectares of coconut palms growing in Fiji. Germplasm collecting, conservation and varietal description has been an ongoing collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture, Sugar and Land Resettlement (MASLR) and COGENT since 1994. Fiji has an established germplasm collection consisting of an initial eight accessions at the Taveuni Coconut Center (Kumar and Kete 2005). These accessions have not been fully characterized. The Taveuni Coconut Center was established in 1987 to look into Fiji’s ailing coconut industry. To set up this station, the government purchased 384 ha of land for the construction of infrastructure and establishment of seedgardens and trials. The programme was initiated to address the declining coconut production through production of high yielding hybrids seednuts and seedlings for rehabilitation.
More info: Conserved coconut germplasm from Fiji (2.4MB)
Collaborative Activities between BIOVERSITY/COGENT and Fiji
1. Capacity Building
a) Technical assistance/expert advice
From 1994 to 2004, five specialists visited Fiji on four technical assistance missions, which includes assessing the country’s coconut R&D capability and assist the national programme in identifying common problems and opportunities for network collaboration; evaluating the progress of the ADB Phase 1 projects and identifying projects for ADB Phase 2 and IFAD-funding; documenting conserved germplasm and farmers’ varieties on the island; and assist the fabrication and installation of machineries and equipment for the production of high-value coconut products and train project participants in the production of coconut virgin oil and fibre-based products..
b) Training and human resources development
Three training courses were held in the country, attended by a 52 researchers representing 5 South Pacific countries. The training courses were hosted by the Taveuni Coconut Center and funded by IFAD and ADB.
From 1996 to 2003, 14 local coconut researchers underwent staff development training sponsored by COGENT on topics such as the STANTECH, coconut collecting and conservation, farmer participatory research, computer use, documentation and data analysis, MSPGR scholarship, coconut embryo in vitro culture techniques and training course on Producing Coconut-based Food Products (Bokayo, Buko Pie, Sugar, Candies).
c) COGENT meetings/workshops
To date, no COGENT-sponsored or –initiated meetings or workshops have been conducted in Fiji.
2. Research Projects
A total of twelve projects have being carried out in the country, with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests as the implementing agency.
3. Financial Support and Funding
Donor funding support for projects in Fiji amounts to US$88,785, mostly from ADB, APCC, DFID and IFAD; while national government counterpart financing for the same amounts to US$131,106.