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Disease resistant varieites imported from Jamaica

Bahamas: Coconut industry encouraged

Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) has started to distribute coconuts resistant to lethal yellowing to farmers on Family Island as a bid to help build a coconut industry.

These Maypan hybrids and Panama dwarfs are going initially to North and South Abaco, Long Island, North and South Andros, Eleuthera, and Exuma.

“These are varieties that are resistant to lethal yellowing, they begin bearing very low to the ground, and they last a long time,” said BAIC assistant general manager (agriculture) Arnold Dorsett.

“They are very productive varieties and we look forward to farmers harvesting coconuts for a long time at arms length.”

The coconuts varieties were purchased from Jamaica, which already has a flourishing coconut industry.

“The Maypan and Panama Dwarf contain lots of water and they have good quality,” said Mr Dorsett. “They are Jamaica’s best varieties.”

The initiative is the idea of BAIC executive chairman Edison M Key, the Member of Parliament for South Abaco.

“This, I hope, is the beginning of an industry,” said Mr Key. “We import coconut products from all over the tropical world for our residents and tourists. So the market is already established.

“I see no reason why we cannot have a successful coconut products industry if only to take care of our own needs and keep in our economy the many millions of dollars we spend importing food products we can produce right here in our Bahamas. After all coconuts grow wild on some of our islands.”

However, many of the coconut trees in the Bahamas are susceptible to lethal yellowing disease, which means those imported have to be resistant..

“These are very special varieties that are not susceptible to the lethal yellowing disease that has been destroying the coconut trees in The Bahamas,” said Mr Key.

He pointed out that there is no wastage or threat to the environment as every portion of the coconut is usable.

“We encourage our people to get involved in the coconut products industry,” said Mr Key. “Entire careers can be established there.

“Once we get these 6,000 trees established then the reproduction from these can be millions of coconut trees, and that would be the industry that would really pay off down the road.”

South Andros where native coconuts grow wild is likely to be a major area for coconut products, said Mr Key.

“There is no doubt in my mind that down the road we can be a major coconut producer,” he said. “We have the sunshine, we have the water, and we have the land…and we are going to develop an industry.”

Source: www.bahamaislandsinfo.com

Publication date: 3/20/2012


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