Past coconut seed supply system in Kiribati

By R. Bourdeix, in construction

Germplasm introductions and observations (from Trewren, 1985)
  • Niu Leka Dwarfs were introduced in 1967 from Fiji and 2 ha planted near Bikenibeu, Tarawa. They showed poor growth with severe symptoms of nutrients deficiency. The block was used as nutrition experiment. Severely affected by drought in 1973.
  • Rennell Talls were introduced and planted at Ambo, Tarawa, about 1965. They showed poor production and symptoms of trace element deficiency. They were used in the early 1970’s as female parent (after emasculation) for hybridization with local Tall. 
  • A spacing/density trial was planted with selected Kiribati Tall on a poor stony soil at Abatao, Tarawa and despite this, showed a good growth.·This plantation was visited and filmed (drone and traditional method for planting coconut).

It is clear from the satellite image that these coconut palms had a much better development than other palms planted around. So this material should preferably used as a source of planting material. Another option could be to turn this plantation into a multipurpose seed garden, by cutting all the palms except the best green one, and replanting red varieties such as Compact Red Dwarfs or Red Semi-Talls.

  • Malayan Dwarfs were planted about 1973 at Abatao. The origin is uncertain. They showed extremely severe symptoms of iron deficiency and high mortality. There are quite a number of MRD in the village within the Gilbert Islands where they are valued for toddy production purpose. There are also a few Malayan Yellow Dwarf.
  • Malayan Red Dwarf x Rennell hybrids were introduced in 1974 and 1976 from Yandina plantation, Solomon Islands; 22 ha were established on reclaimed lagoon mud at Temaiku Bight, Tarawa, in extremely poor growing conditions (poor nutrient status, thick impenetrable hard pan only inches from the surface, periodic inundation). Most of the palms are stunted and show symptoms of mineral deficiencies.

  • Five trees of a green Dwarf were recorded on Makin Island, in front of the guest house. The seednuts were reported to have been brought from Butaritari but Trewren think that they could be Malayan Green Dwarfs.
  • A dozen of trees were reported by Town to be Marshall Islands Dwarfs, established on reclaimed lagoon mud at Temalku Bight. For Ratieta, they came from Tarawa.
  • On Kiritimati, Line Group, a block of Rennell Talls was planted about 1963. Half of them died and the other showed extremely severe symptoms of iron deficiency.
  • Also on Kiritimati, a block was planted with seednuts coming from one (?) of the islands of Gilbert Group. In 1985, the palms were healthy but the nuts had a small size. 
  • The Kirimati Tall itself is reported to be very variable. Trees in the trials were producing (in 1985) a very high proportion of large nuts with a very good copra kernel/husk ratio. Note: where is located this trial and are palms still alive?
  • On Fanning island, a fairly high proportion of coconuts with fruit weight of over 3 kg is reported but with a rather small nut surrounded by a enormous amount of husk. They can be the Niu afa of Niu Kafa variety.