Diversification of coconut genebank

To be sustainable, a coconut genebank should become multifunctional. It should conserve not only coconut palms but also other crop species; and coconut conservation could also be included in research station conserving other crops.

Other tree crops, such as for instance breadfruits, ornamental or medicinal trees, other palm species, should serve as isolation buffers to improve the true-to-typeness of the open pollinated seednuts produced by the coconut genebank; but these buffers should not be simple plantation of these other tree crops, they should be organised as real genebanks for these other tree crops. Every plant species growing in the genebank should be planted  for conservation purposes.

The example of Samoa

Some years ago in Samoa, Olomanu was the place where both Samoan coconut genebank and seed garden were located. The genebank was conserving only coconut palms. Experience showed that this genebank was not sustainable: Olomanu was turned to a Rehabilitation young centre, under the authority of the Police Ministry.
If another genebank and seed garden are created in Samoa only for of coconut palm, there is a high risk that, in 20 to 30 years, somebody else will need this new land and the genebank and seed garden  will be destroyed again (as it happened for Olomanu). If, from the beginning, the new genebank is created for conserving 4 to 5 different crop species, it will become much more sustainable. Nobody will be able to destroy it, because the national and international commitment on the importance of the genebank will be much higher. It will be also much more easy  to obtain external funding is the genebank conserve more than only one plant species.
In the expert opinion, a place such as Olomanu could well be a rehabilitation young centre under the Ministry of Police, and, in the same time, continue to serve as a coconut genebank. This does not means that the rehabilitation centre must be covered only by coconut palms; may be for instance a fifth of the land of the rehabilitation centre could be devoted to coconut plantation, production and conservation. This multifunctional alternative have two crucial advantages for the Ministry of Police:
  1. Presently young prisoners are mainly trained to generate financial resources from agriculture; in the future, they could be also trained in the importance of biodiversity and in maintaining Samoan traditions and traditional varieties.
  2. The fact that the Ministry of Police will also be involved in the conservation of biodiversity and in the preservation of Samoan traditions will give it an excellent public image.