The Sampoorna hybrid coconut variety is one of the high yielding variety in India.
The variety was on Tuesday introduced to farmers in Kilifi by Governor Amason Kingi.
The county distributed 3000 saplings of the dwarf hybrid coconut variety each going for Ksh 500.
The minimum number a farmer was allowed to purchase was 31 saplings.
The hybrid coconut variety
According to the company propagating the variety in India, one tree which takes about two years to mature produces approximately 450 nuts per year.
It has big nuts with high coconut water of 0.5lts and high copra content as well as high oil content.
This if well taken care of can be a game changer for the coconut value chain in the coastal region which has for ages depended on the low yielding East African tall and the East African dwarf.
The variety which is exotic to India is being introduced to the country for the first time. Last year Kilifi county introduced cocoa farming.
Few years back, Tanzania imported such saplings but due to poor handling the variety became a source of diseases for coconut plantations in the country.
According to Kilifi county government, the coconut variety was bought from India in June 2019, quarantined at Matuga KALRO and plant health inspected by KEPHIS. No on farm trials of the variety has been conducted in the country.
An officer at the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization KALRO said the variety needs at least 40 litres of water per day.
“One of the requirement is to have a good source of water. The other requirement is you must plant these seedlings away from other coconut trees not less than 100 metres radius. The 100 metres radius is to discourage cross pollination. For it to do well farmers must apply good agricultural practices,” said the officer on condition of anonymity.
This hybrid variety is susceptible to pests and diseases. The variety is very easy to chop because it is less fibrous hence so easier for pest attack.
One of the most common diseases of this variety is the Bud rot.
Bud rot is a fatal disease of the coconut trees, characterized by the rotting of the terminal bud and the surrounding tissues.
It affects palms of all ages, but young palms are found to be most vulnerable. The disease is caused by the fungus Phytophthora palmivora and the incidence is found to be severe during high humidity.
The first visible symptom is the withering of the spindle marked with pale colour, the spear leaf or spindle turns brown and bends down.
On dissecting such affected spindles, rotting of internal tissues could be observed, the tissues show pale pink colour with a brown border.
The affected spindle can be easily pulled out at this stage. A foul smell is emitted by the rotting tissue.
The palm ultimately succumbs to the diseases with the death of the spindle.
In managing the disease, Deejay Sampoorna recommends the spraying of adjacent healthy palms with 1 percent Bordeaux mixture or with any other copper based fungicide like Copper Oxy Chloride 2g per liter of water. A pre and post monsoon sprays of the above fungicide is recommended for the management of the disease. Maintaining the proper drainage also reduces the disease incidence.
Fertigation is also recommended. This can be a tall order to farmers in the county.
Because it is less fibrous, it is easily attacked by the Red Palm Weevil (RPW).
The RPW (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) is a serious pest attacking different species of palm trees.
The larvae are the most destructive stage of the weevil as they penetrate deep in the lower part of the stem causing a lot of damage to the internal tissues. When the infestation is severe, the whole tree falls and dies.