VARTC coconut palms area covers around 210ha.
The Coconut Department has two major activities : Research & Production
VARTC Coconut Research is oriented towards genetic improvement of coconut with 2 objectives :
- Improvement of coconut varieties in order to develop species adapted to Vanuatu’s climate and conditions
- Creation of Hybrids varieties for the Pacific region (PRAP- PDICC regional project)
VARTC coconut field genebank is composed of a collection of 44 populations tall and dwarf ecotypes.
These research activities bring the centre to establish a collection of 20 populations of Vanuatu Tall originated from different islands of the Archipelago. The coconuts plants have been observed and selected for their nuts production rates and nuts characteristics. Best trees have been used as parents in order to enlarge genetic database populations of the Vanuatu Tall. Mutants with rare characteristics have been identified. These trees are maintained in VARTC coconut plantations.
The exotic collection established at VARTC is unique in the Pacific. Despite the difficulties to maintain it, because of Decay Foliar Disease (DFS) and cyclones, this collection is carefully preserved and represents a potential base to develop improved population or hybrids, to analyse genetic diversity, to study qualitative green nuts. Dwarfs’ green nuts water is the most sweater one for drinking and makes tourists happy !
Brazilian Green Dwarf
Samoa Yellow Dwarf
This collection enabled VARTC scientists to create 39 hybrids for the Pacific region.
These varieties have been partially described; many data area available within the CGRD (Coconut Genetic Resources Database) of the COGENT (Coconut Genetic Network).
VARTC plans also to lead applied researches on post-harvest processing to develop added value products such as copra-oil but also coconut water, coconut sugar, and so on. These new research activities will aim to increase farmers profit and to strengthen the agro-tourism sector.
VARTC produces and sells copra, seedlings, seed nuts and other coconut products such as dry nuts, green coconuts fruits, germinated nuts and green leaves (refer to the section “on sale”).
As around 20% of coconut plantations of the country are senile, and many plantations have been devastated by Cyclone Pam in 2015, VARTC has been mandated by the Government of Vanuatu to participate to the national replanting program in coconut trees. Thousands of selected seedlings are produced every year on the station, and distributed within the archipelago, with the support of the DARD (Department of Agriculture).
The hybrid between the Vanuatu Tall and the Rennell Island Tall presents very interesting performances, better than the first Vanuatu Tall introduced in the station in terms of precocity, copra content, and yield per hectare. A new seed garden has been planted in the station for the production of these improved cultivars.
VARTC developed also an optimised pattern (G3PH Model) to plant coconut palms. It increases the number of trees per hectare. The production of improved GVT can be increased by 210%.
VARTC leads also assessment on crops association. Several hectares of the station are then dedicated to the association of coconut palms and cocoa trees.