APF for Thai Agriculturist
From drought conditions to Thai coconut extinction crisis
From world's leading coconut producer and exporter is about to become one of the countries importing coconut, a crisis that is threatening Thai coconut farmers. If this crisis continues to happen, Thailand might become 100% coconut importing country.
For 4 years that severe drought continually threatened Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, the biggest coconut planting area in the country. In September, 2010, the massive drought obviously shown that it had negative impact in coconut planting area of more than 400,000 Rai.
The coconut palm can grow in every part of the country but grows better in sandy soil with neutral soil conditions, and with regularly scattered rain all year round but then Prachuap Khiri Khan, the province with appreciable rain falling in all months, has become drought zone, lack of rain, no artificial rain production in this area and irrigation water ran dry even at Chong Lom reservoir, water levels so depleted that was dry as a bone which is the effect of drought that happened gradually over a long period of time.
And the effect of drought leads to weak, shallow-rooted coconut plants, and the attack from coconut plant insects such as Coconut hispine beetle and Coconut black-headed caterpillar. Nowaday so many coconut palms in Tubsakae district have died and green coconut leaves have browned.
Nowaday coconut has been short supply in the market. The prize of one coconut is 20 – 30 Baht, the same as the prize of Curd Coconut therefore it means now is a crucial time for Thai coconut and if it continues to occur, soon we will no longer have coconut milk to use as a main ingredient in Thai foods and no more aromatic coconut in the markets.
Mr. Kriangsak Thepphadungporn, Managing Director, Ampol Food Processing Co., LTD. Manufacturer of Chaokoh Pasturized Coconut Milk, said that, “We used to bring in coconut production to produce pasturized coconut milk 150 tons per time but now it’s reduced by 60-70% which is not enough for manufacturing, at the same time the product has high consumer demand but we cannot manufacture products to efficiently respond to consumer demand.
“Our company has carried this deficit since the end of last year. We cannot increase the prize of our product even the coconut product cost is up from 7-8 Baht to 20 Baht at present but there’s still shortage of coconut anyway so we need to import coconut from Indonesia too to manafacture.”
Because of above said problems, National Biological Control Research Center, National Research Council of Thailand, Kasetsart University, Thailand Coconut Farmers Association and Ampol Food Processing Co., Ltd. who have been aware of the problems, have cooperated by encourage farmers to learn about utilization of natural enemies for biological control of coconut hispine beetle, Coconut black-headed caterpillar and other insect plant pests.
Assoc.Prof. Wiwat Suesa-aad, Director of National Biological Control Research Center and Kasetsart University instructor said that, “Through the area we have been to, it obviously shows that farmers still don’t know about utilization of natural enemies sush as Predatory Insects, Parasitic Insects for biological control of coconut hispine beetle and Coconut black-headed caterpillar and other coconut pests. But when they see that using chemical pesticides doesn’t work since coconut plants still cannot protect themselves from insect plant pests, they started to interested and learned how to use natural enemies for biological control of coconut pests and we also provided them education about utilization of natural enemies for biological control of coconut pests too. Research team of National Biological Control Research Center has also surveyed the area to test utilization of Predatory Insects, Parasitic Insects and also Spore or Comidium to biological control these coconut pests and the result was good since coconut palm that had been attacked by pests until losing their green leaves, having new green leaves again.”
Not only coconut palm that has been suffer significant damage by insect attacks but oil palm which is a member of the palm family, has started to suffer from this problem as well. And if public sector still doesn’t seriously concern about this crisis soon Thai coconut will be definitely extinct.