The Coconut Programme has been designated as the leader in lethal yellowing (LY) research in Africa by the Bureau for the Development of Research on Tropical Perennial Oil Crops (BUROTROP). The Programme has develop several cutting edge technologies to manage the devastating lethal yellowing disease of coconut. These include the development of a tolerant hybrid to the disease in Ghana. Environmentally friendly and non-polluting cultural practices that slows down /contain the spread of LY in disease endemic areas have been developed by the Programme.
The technology helps to prolong the productive life of a farm in the face of LY. The Programme in collaboration with it partners (University of Nottingham and the Food and Environment Research Agency, UK) have developed easy to use in-field DNA methods for diagnosis LY on farmers’ fields. The technique (including DNA extraction in-field) takes no more than 30 minutes. The Programme through its breeding research has developed several fit-for-purpose coconut varieties.
These include varieties suitable for fresh fruit, husk or copra production. To protect the crop against pests, the Programme has developed a management strategy to control Oryctes (beetle), a major pest of coconut. The method uses old fishing nets and locally made metal hooks. The method is easy to use, non-hazardous, environmentally friendly and affordable. Biologoical control methods involving the use of entomopathogens have also been developed to control some major pests of coconuts such as O. monoceros, Macrotermes sp., Rhynchophorus sp. among others.
A significant boost to the coconut industry in Ghana is the introduction of Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO). The Coconut Programme has been at the forefront of the development of the product and the transfer of the technology to coconut farming communities. Technologies to utilize by-products from village level processing of coconut which hitherto was a source of environmental pollution have also been developed to protect the environment and help farmers earn additional income.
Plant Pathology: Survey, detection and classification of the causal organisms of coconut fungal, phytoplasma and bacterial diseases. Development of disease management strategies and epidemiological studies.
Entomology: Research on pests and other beneficial organisms of coconut. Development of Integrated Pest Management strategies (including biological control) and modelling of pest infestation and impact studies.
Breeding: Development of high yielding and disease resistant varieties coconut varieties. Marker assisted breeding to improve and shorten breeding cycles and development of varieties/hybrids suitable to different agro-ecological zones.
Agronomy: Development of climate smart coconut based farming systems to maximise farmers’ income and protect the environment. Development of soil fertility management technologies for high performance of coconut.
Value Addition: Development of value added products and by-product utilisation for wealth creation in coconut growing communities.
The Programme collaborates with several local and International. Local institutions include the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA); Skills Development Fund (SDF); Ministry of local Government and Rural Development among others. Internationally, the Programme has strong links with the Coconut Genetic Resources Network (COGENT); National Center for Agricultural Research (CNRA -Cote D’Ivoire); CIRAD-France; the University of Nottingham among others. The Programme is spearheading in Ghana an International Project (TROPICSAFE) that involve 22 organisations from 12 countries and is funded by the European Commission.
Hybrid Coconut seedlings at the nursery
Exhibition of virgin coconut oil
High yielding coconut tree