The coconut tree is called as "Kalpavriksha" which essentially means all parts of a coconut tree is useful some way or other. Coconut cultivation is the source of sustainable income especially for small and marginal farmers.
Coconut is essentially a tropical plant but has been found to grow under varying agro climatic conditions. The coconut palm can tolerate wide range of soil conditions. Soil with a minimum depth of 1.2m and fairly good water holding capacity is preferred for coconut cultivation.
Preparation of land for Coconut farming:-
Size of the pit depends on the soil type and water table. In laterite soils large pits of the size 1.2m x 1.2m x 1.2 m may be dug and filled up with loose soil, powdered cow dung and ash upto a depth of 60 cm before planting. In loamy soils, pits of size 1m x 1m x 1m filled with top soil to height of 50 cm is recommended.
While filling the pits, two layers of coconut husk can be arranged at the bottom of the pit with concave surface facing upwards for moisture conservation. After arranging each layer, BHC 10% DP should be sprinkled on the husk to prevent termite attack.
In laterite soils, common salt @ 2 kg per pit may be applied, six months prior, on the floor of the pit to soften the hard pans.
Spacing in Coconut farming:-
In general square system of planting with a spacing of 7.5m x 7.5m is recommended for coconut. This will accommodate 177 palms per hectare.
Coconut Planting material & planting techniques:-
Vigrorous seedlings which are one year old, having minimum of six leaves and girth of 10 cm at the collar level should be selected for planting in the main field. Planting the seedlings during May with the onset of pre-monsoon rain is ideal.
Varieties of Coconut :-
The tall varieties are extensively grown throughout India while dwarf is grown mainly for parent material in hybrid seed production and for tender coconuts.
Maintenance of coconut garden: -
Regular manuring from the first year of planting is essential to ensure good vegetative growth, early flowering and bearing and high yield.
Manures and Fertilizers application in Coconut garden :-:-
|Particulars||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
Irrigation in coconut: -
Coconut responds well to summer irrigation. Under basin irrigation, 200 litres per palm once in four days will be beneficial. In areas where water is scarce drip irrigation system can be adopted.
Interculture in Coconut:-
Tillage operations like digging, ploughing, forming small mounds during August - September and spreading them in December - January, making shallow basins with a radius of 2m before the onset of monsoon and filling it up at the close of monsoon are beneficial to the trees.
Coconut based cropping systems: -
To maximise the utilisation of soil and sunlight in the coconut garden, intercropping can be adopted with a variety of crops.
Harvesting of Coconut: -
Coconuts become mature in about 12 months after the opening of the spathe. It is the ripe coconut which is the source of major coconut products. Nuts which are eleven months old give fibre of good quality and can be harvested in the tracts where green husks are required for the manufacture of coir fibre. Economic life of the coconut palm can be considered as 60 years.
Insect pests of coconut: -
The major insect pests of the coconut palm are the eriophyid mite, rhinoceros beetle, the leaf eating caterpillar, red palm weevil, leaf eating caterpillar and the root eating white grub. These pests can be controlled by adopting the following measures.
1. Eriophyid mite:
This is a serious pest of coconut. Root feeding of commercial neem formulations containing 5 % azadirachtin @ 7.5 ml + 7.5 ml water. Spraying neem oil - garlic - soap mixture @ 2 per cent concentration (200 ml of neem oil + 50g soap + 200 g of garlic mixed in 10 litres of water)
2. Rhinoceros beetle:
The beetle attacks fronds and cuts the leaves before opening. Killing the beetles mechanically by hooks is the most effective measure. The breeding places such as decaying organic matter, FYM, dead palms, etc. should be treated with insecticides. Biological control by release of Oryctesbaculovirusinoculatede beetles @10-15 per ha bring down the pest population. Spraying of 250 mg fungal culture of Metarhiziumanisopliae diluted with 750 ml water per sq.m. of breeding site helds to reduce the pest population.
3. Leaf eating caterpillar:
This insect eats green portion of the plant. Spraying insecticides like Dichlorvos 0.02 per cent and biological control using larval and pupal parasites can control the pest effectively.
4. Red palm weevil:
The larva of the weevil bores into the trunk and feeds on the inner tissue making large holes. Externally exudation of reddish gum is only visible. The palm may die if the attack is severe. Early stage of infestation can be controlled by pouring 1 per cent Carbaryl. Pheromone lures can be used for trapping the insect.
5. White Grub:
The insect causes damage to the roots. Applying phorate 10 G @ 100g/palm during May-June and September-October gives effective control over the pest.
Diseases control in coconut: -
Coconut palm is affected by a number of diseases, some of which are lethal while others gradually reduce the vigor of the palm causing severe loss in the yield.
Important diseases are bud rot, root wilt, leaf rot, leaf blight, mahali or fruit rot and nut fall, stem bleeding, ganoderma wilt, Crown choking disease, etc. Control measures of some of these diseases are stated briefly below.
1. Bud rot:
Young plants are damaged most. Application of Copper oxychloride @ 4g /l of water or Bordeux mixture in the leaf area can control the disease.
2. Root wilt: -
The chief symptoms are the withering and drooping of leaves which remain suspended from the trees. Control measure is- dig the diseased fallen palm and burn them. Apply 1kg of Sulphur and mix properly in the soil.
3. Leaf blight: -
The typical symptom is the appearance of greyish white spot, surrounded by a brown band. Apply judicious doses of manures and fertilizers to the plants.
4. Stem bleeding:
Exudation of reddish brown liquid through cracks on trunk which turn brown later is observed. Cavity may develop beneath the affected area. Scraping the affected area and then application of Bordeux mixture or Copper oxychloride or Mancozeb is recommended.
Economic aspect of coconut farming:-
The cost of coconut cultivation in one hectare of oil palm works out to 80000/-. The above costs are average indicative costs. Banks may adopt higher or lower than the average costs depending on local conditions and viability of the units.
Financial analysis was carried out for one hectare of coconut cultivation. For financial analysis, the income was assessed on a conservative basis. The productivity of a eleven year old coconut garden was considered at 60 nuts per tree and per hectare coconut plant population is 177.
Therefore, total coconut production is (60*177)=10620. One coconut nut price in market is average Rs. 20. Therefore, total price= Rs. (20*10620) =Rs. 2,12,400. Net profit = Rs. (212400-80000) =Rs.132400.
A simple estimation will obviously attract farmers towards coconut farming. The palms generally start bearing at the age of five or seven years after planting and the stabilized yield is obtained from about the eleventh year. Economic life of the coconut palm can be considered as 60 years. The productivity of a eleven year old coconut plant is about 60 nuts.
One tree’s one year’s production=60 nuts (average)
Price of one nut in market (approx.) = Rs. 20/-
Total income in a year= Rs. (60*20)=Rs. 1200/-
Total income from a tree for whole economic life =Rs. (1200*60)=Rs. 72000/-
Therefore, cultivation of coconut tree in commercial basis is profitable and source of sustainable income.
Agriculture is the base of our economy, culture and livelihood. Therefore, if any disturbance comes in agriculture (cultivation), all the three abovesaid aspects will be disturbed. Hence, it is needed to sustain (maintain) agriculture at continuous basis. But, it is always not possible, because agriculture depends on weather (nature).
Weather has no fixed pattern, has no confirmation, has no surety and it has no sustainability that year after year same favourable weather will exist. So, variable weather pattern makes agriculture variable. In one year production is good, next year production is less and in further year crop is failured due to natural calamity (i.e. flood, drought, cyclone, earthquake, etc.).
If agriculture is not sustainable, farmers’ income is not sustainable means there is sufferings in life, means deplorable condition of farmers’ economy. Two third of population of our country (67%) are directly engaged with agriculture, therefore, two third of population’s economic condition is fragile, is equal to country’s economic condition is also fragile, because ultimate is the summation of units.
In this background, it is needed to show a way to farmers for sustainable income. Among the several ways of sustainable income (i.e. dairy, poultry, fishery, silviculture-tree planting, bamboo farming, goatary, fruit tree cultivation, apiculture, sericulture, integrated farming etc.), coconut farming is an important one, where proper utilization of space is done by following intercropping or mixed cropping without any hampering of coconut yield.
Coconut cultivation opens the opportunity to utilize space properly. Few palms backside of home or fallow land or band of pond or roadside or simply two plants in two sides of gate of home courtyard is the assurance of home consumption (nutritional security) as well as additional income, stabilize farmers’ economy upto a extent. Therefore, farmers should have to develop income generating attitude considering their farm as business unit and will always keep it in mind that one is always greater than zero (1>0).
Now-a-days, mass media, scientists of agricultural universities and research stations, extension personnel of public and private organizations-all are approaching farmers for their development, and time has come for farmers’ that they must march towards these extension efforts, because their first step will bring awareness, second step will bring their development and third step will bring revolution again in Indian agriculture.
Department of Agricultural Extension, College of Agriculture,
Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Agricultural Farm-713101; Burdwan, West Bengal, India;