Coconut farming is the cultivation of coconut trees primarily for its edible fruits. The coconut tree is a large palm of the Palm tree family usually growing up to 30 meters tall with an extensive fibrous root system. The fibrous root is composed of tiny, tiny roots that grow outwards from the plant. It is a perennial tree and can last for up till 60 years if adequately cared for.
It usually produces up to 70 coconut fruits in a farming year. The coconut fruits are primary derivatives of the coconut plant. It is a drupe and so has three distinct layers; the exocarp, mesocarp and the endocarp. The exocarp is the glossy, outer skin covering of the fruit usually yellow-green in color.
The mesocarp is the part which is composed of the brown fiber. Both the exocarp and the mesocarp constitute the fruit’s husk while the endocarp is the fruit’s hard shell. An average, mature, full sized coconut fruit weighs about 14kg. It’s always recommended to store the fruits without removing its husks for a longer shelf life of about 3-5 months.
A farmer has higher chances of generating better yields of coconuts if he considers cultivating them in the southern belt of the country as the climate there is favorable for good coconut growth.
Benefits of coconut farming?
Coconut farming is easy to establish
Coconut farming is easy to establish as the costs of start up capital and maintaining the farm is minimal. This is because most coconut varieties are pest and disease resistant and hence the farmer does not have to incur the cost of purchasing pesticides and other related chemicals. The costs the farmer has to incur includes that of buying seedlings, necessary farming equipment and also labor costs for weeding the farm.
Products from Coconut farming has a large market
Coconut has a very large market as most people consume coconuts and view coconuts as food. Also many people use coconuts for religious and cultural purposes. This constitute a large market for coconuts and makes the business a very lucrative one.
The edible, white, fleshy part of the seed i.e. coconut meat is eaten by most people. It is also used by many people to make pastries, salads, pies and snacks. It is also used industrially in many chocolate fillings. Some people consume it as snacks when they cut it into strips to make coconut chips.
Coconut farming is necessary For coconut milk production
Coconut milk is different from coconut water. This is because, coconut milk is industrially obtained by pressing grated coconut meat with hot water which extracts and produces the coconut milk which is rich in oils, proteins and other nutritious compounds. The milk can then be further processed into coconut cream and coconut milk powder. The milk can also be applied for use in cosmetics and beauty care products.
Produce from Coconut farming are necessary for the alcohol producing industry
Alcohol producing industries utilize coconut in the production of alcoholic beverages. The coconut sap, water and milk can be fermented to produce palm wine and coconut vinegar.
The husks serve many uses:
The husks and shells of coconut fruits serve as fuel and sources of charcoal. The fibers from the husks of coconut are used for making ropes, mats, doormats, sacks etc. They are also used agriculturally for improving soil fertility through its use in mulch making and compost making.
To make coconut oils
Coconut milk and water is used industrially as raw materials for producing coconut oils. Coconut oil is commonly used in cooking the same way as vegetable oils. Coconut oil is the most expensive cooking oil and some farmers cultivate coconuts specifically for this purpose. The coconut oil can be hardened and solidified to produce coconut butter.
For furniture making
Timber i.e. the wood of the coconut tree is commonly used for making furniture due to its tensile strength and its tendency to serve as a substitute for hardwood.
The leaves of coconut trees are uses for making brooms, baskets, mats, roofing thatch and decorative materials.
Climatic and soil requirements of coconuts.
Coconut is a tropical crop and thrives in areas with abundant sunlight and rainfall of about 1500-3000mm in a year. They grow in warm regions with high relative humidity. They don’t grow and are intolerant of cold weather. They require a daily temperature of about 12°-14°c.
They grow well on well drained soils with moderate water holding capacity. They are found growing on most soils ranging from; loamy, laterite, alluvial, clayey and coastal sandy soils. It also grows well on sandy soils and tolerates high levels of salinity.
Varieties of coconut trees for Coconut Farming
There are three distinct varieties of coconuts. These are the tall, dwarf and hybrid varieties.
Tall Coconut tree varieties
These are coconut cultivars that are characterized by their tall stature. They have a longer lifespan than the dwarf varieties with a lifespan of about 60 years above. They can live up to a 100 years old under favorable conditions. They are slow in fruiting as an average coconut tree starts bearing fruits after 6-8years of planting. They are the common choice for farming due to the high quality of its coconuts. Examples are: West African tall, Malayan tall, West coast tall varieties etc.
Dwarf Coconut tree varieties
They have fewer variations when compared with the tall varieties. They are small in size as the name suggests. They also have a shorter life span of up to 60years old. They mature faster as they fruit earlier than the tall varieties i.e. about 3-4 years of planting. They don’t easily adapt to different soil conditions and are more susceptible to disease and pest attacks.
Hybrid Coconut tree varieties
These cultivars are formed as a result of the cross between the tall and dwarf varieties. These varieties are more superior in terms of quality and quantity of coconut produced. They are more tolerant to changes in soil conditions with a high resistance to drought, pests and diseases. They start fruiting after 3-5years of planting. The oil produced from the coconut of this variety are usually of a good quality.
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