By R. Bourdeix, V. Saena Tuia and Alofa Leuluaialii

This website returns the information collected during two scientific visits conducted in 2001 and 2010, on behalf the Ministry of Agriculture of Samoa, the International Coconut Genetic Resources Network, the Secretatiat of the South Pacific Community, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Bioversity International and the French Centre for Agricultural Research and Development. The objective of the second visit was to secure the conservation of the famous Niu Afa cultivar, the longest coconut in the world.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Westec estates and large previous replanting projects

The folloing is extracted from the book: Asian Development Bank (1985) Western Samoa Agriculture Sector study. Volume II. Background and sector review.

WSTEC had about 4,048 ha of coconut, about 971 ha of cocoa and about 128 ha of coffee. The production of these crops in 1983 was as follows: 4,057 mt of copra, 202 mt cocoa and 15 mt of coffee. WSTEC has received three loans from international agencies for development work.

In December 1977, the Asian Development Bank approved a loan of US$3.0 million for rehabilitation of six WSTEC estates on Upolu. The main components of the project included the improvement of infrastructure and amangement practices; establishement of an agricualtural research station for tree crops research; machinery for road improvement and maintenance; provision of necessary product processing facilities for cocoa and copra; assistance for project implementation, operation and maintenance; and provision of fellowships for overseas training of local staff.

In October 1980, the Asian Development Bank approved a second loan, part of which was for WSTEC’s development, consisting of replanting of 400 ha of the oldest coconut provision of fertilizer for an additional 1,518 ha of coconut, planting of 400 ha of cocoa (Amelonado) under younger coconut, application of fertilizer in about 718 ha of cocoa, upgrading of existiong buildings and construction of additional structures a coconut stem utilization plant, construction of new roads and rehabilitation of existing roads, consultants and support for activities other than tree crop cultivation. The total lending for the tree crop plantation related activities was about US$4.5 million.

In 1979 the World Bank approved US$8.0 million under an IDA credit for the development of WSTEC estates in Savaii. The total cost of the project was US$20.5 million, with co-financing by the Australian Government (US$5.4 million), UNDP (US$1.7 million), the Japanese Government (US$1.4 million) and the EC Special Fund (US$0.3 million). The project consisted of investments for nurseries, imported improved planting material and field development of about 1,000 ha of coconut 5,260 ha of cocoa and about 80 ha of coffee in WSTEC estates and selected villages of Savaii, plus other activities of WSTEC not related to tree crops.

COCONUT


Until recently, copra was the main coconut product in Western Samoa. Since 1982, a coconut oil mill has been in operation to extract crude coconut oil from copra. A small amount of charcoal is made by villagers from coconut shell for domestic use only. Production of coconut is generally measured by the amount of dry copra exported. The amount of coconut and copra consumed domestically is not known with any accuracy, and various estimates exists. One such estimate is based on the assumption of an average consumption of 0.5 coconut per person per day, for all persons above 10 years of age, giving an annual average consumption of 3,864 mt of dry copra equivalent. Other estimates are as high as two to three coconuts per person per day. The conservative consumption figure of 0.5 coconut per person per day has been generally accepted, perhaps not because it is more reliable but because of the implications of the other estimates. Uncollected coconuts which remain on the ground germinate or are eaten by rats and pigs and have been estimated at 16-25 percent. After making appropriate adjustments for domestic consumption, wastage and exports, the average annual production is estimated at about 24,000 mt. The current levels of productivity in the copra industry are low by world standards, averaging about 6000 kg per ha. This is due to several factors, including senile plantations, poor cultural practices, lack of fertilizers, failure to remove the old trees under which the new stand has been planted and failure to collect the crop on time. Many of these constraints could be removed by an effective extension service.

SMALLHOLDERS COCONUT SEEDNUTS SUPPLY SCHEME

From 1966 to 1977, the Government ran a coconut replanting scheme under which about 4.45 million seednuts were distributed to farmers. Rather than replanting, most of the seedlings were used for new plantings. These new plantings were not properly managed agronomically. It is estimated that about 21,000 ha of these areas now exist and are yielding at the rate of about 750kg copra per ha annual. This yield from fully mature young plantations is considered too low, and the benefit from the replanting scheme would appear to have been mostly lost.

FAO/UNDP HYPRID COCONUT PROJECT

A project to establish a hybrid coconut garden was started in 1977 using an area of about 16 ha. The project also provided for plant protection services, including a laboratory, insectary and plant house complex. The hybrids developed were based on Malayan Red and Yellow Dwarf mother palms crossed with Rennel Tall. The project is producing hybrid seeds that are currently being used for replanting on WSTEC lands. From 1986, the production of hybrids have been planted with local talls on three locations in controlled experiments for comparison. These are about four years old now and, although no scientific assessment has yetbeen completed, it is obvious from visual observation that the hybrid plants are producing almost at the rate of 50 or more nuts per palm per year as compared to no fruit set yet in the local talls