The International Coconut Genetic Resources Network (COGENT) is one of the major programs of ICC since 2019. One of the activities under the COGENT program funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is to undertake appraisals of the International Coconut Genebanks (ICGs) located in five regions i.e., ICG-SEA-Indonesia, ICG-SAME-India, ICG-SP-PNG, ICG-AIO-Ivory Coast, and ICG-LAC-Brazil. The main objective of conducting the ICG appraisal is to assess the collections’ overall capacity and needs, including: i) hosting agreement status; ii) management effectiveness; iii) roles, services and use, and linkages with users and other stakeholders; iv) performance targets and work plans; and v) collection status within the global context.
The International Coconut Genebank for Southeast and East Asia (ICG-SEA) is hosted by Government of Indonesia, and is located and managed by Indonesian Palm Crop Research Institute (IPCRI), Manado, and North Sulawesi Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology (BPTP-SULUT). The technical appraisal of the ICG-SEA was conducted from 28th February to 4th March by the team of experts of Dr. Lalith Parera, Additional Director and breeder from Coconut Research Institute, Sri Lanka, Prof. Alain Rival, Senior Project Manager, CIRAD, Jakarta and Dr. Donata Pandin, former researcher from Balit Palma. The economic analysis conducted by Mrs. Erlene Manohar , COGENT Coordinator and Dr. Celia Medina, Professor (Entomology), Institute of Weed Science, Entomology & Plant Pathology, College of Agriculture and Food Science, University of the Philippines Los Baños from 14-17 March 2022. Besides the experts, Dr. Jelfina C. Alouw, Executive Director, Ms. Mridula Kottekate, Assistant Director and Mr. Klaudio Hosang, Admn & Finance Officer accompanied the team from the ICC Secretariat.
A technical session was organised for the researchers of Balit Palma in which Dr. Lalith Perera, Additional Director, CRI presented the breeding programs of CRI, Dr. Alian Rival presented the activities of CIRAD and the potential collaboration; Dr. Doni Muksydayan, Director, Plant Quarantine, presented the quarantine activities, Dr. Steivie Karouw, presented the activities of Balit Palma. The appraisal team visited the assessions both in Pandu and Paniki experimental gardens. There are 17 national assessions (12 tall and 5 dwarf varieties) are maintained in the experimental garden at Pandu, location of the ICG-SEA. The Balit Palma team joined the appraisal activities were Dr. Steivie Karouw, Director, Dr. Ismail Maskromo, Acting Director, North Sulawesi Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology (BPTP-SULUT), Dr. Jeanette Kumaunang Researcher and Breeder Dr. Elsye T. Tenda, Researcher, Dr. Meldy Hosang, Head of Plant Protection Division, Dr. Meity Tulalo, Researcher and curator, Mrs. Juniaty Kalesaran Sundalangi, Researcher and other field staff. The Appraisal team also visited other local gene banks, seed gardens and experimental stations, pollen processing facility, tissue culture laboratory, and pest and disease research division and had interaction with the staff.
Mrs. Erlene Manohar, COGENT coordinator had Focus Group Discussion with the Balit Palma team and discussed on the activities of the economic analysis of the ICGs and helped the team in preparing the action plan on the activities to be carried in ICG. The main objective of the economic appraisal is to assess the economic value of establishing ICGs and the valuation of the use of the genetic resources for varietal improvement and mass propagation. The key areas to be considered in the action plan was discussed as status of the germplasm collection ICGs (Baseline and Current conditions), total number of existing germplasm collections (Indigenous and Exotic Collections), recommended Germplasm Exchange Protocol, characterization of the vegetative and reproductive performance of each accession (Data Base Management Protocol Adopted), pest and diseases monitoring activities, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) of the ICG farms, Fund support (Local and External) for Sustainability.
The technical appraisal team had a round table discussion with the Balit Palma team and focussed on the issues related to production, maintenance and plant protection aspects. Dr. Jelfina C.Alouw, Executive Director in her remarks mentioned that ICC-COGENT will facilitate the MoU between Government of Indonesia, FAO Treaty and ICC and shall made some amendments with regard to exchange of germplasm between the ICG regions, to improve genetic diversity and produce some new Hybrids in future. She added that the land issues faced by Balit Palma in the occupancy of the accessions would be discussed with the local North Sulawesi province government. ICC-COGENT shall facilitate the collaborative research and exchange program between the ICG host countries.
The first ICG appraisal of this series has been conducted and completed in September 2019 for the International Coconut Genebank for South Pacific (ICG-SP) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the second ICG appraisal was organised for the International Coconut Genebank for Africa and Indian Ocean (ICG-AIO) in January 2021. The coconut accessions conserved in ICGs and NCGs are important materials to use in research and breeding to produce better varieties with desired properties such as tolerant to climate change and biotic stresses, early flowering, high yield, high nutritional value, and beneficial to health. The responsive distribution of coconut diversity is essential for the development of sustainable coconuts globally.