Sri Lanka to axe over 400,000 coconut trees to keep vectors at bay

20:22, June 17, 2010      

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The Sri Lankan government has decided to axe over 400,000 coconut trees to prevent the spreading of a coconut disease called "blight" (phytoplasma) which has reduced the country's coconut yield by over 45 percent. "We detected the disease in 2006 and it is now spreading fast in several districts in the south," Coconut Research Institute (CRI) Director Chithrangani Jayasekara told reporters on Thursday.

Coconut is a major ingredient of daily diet of Sri Lankans, with each person consuming over 110 nuts annually.

The island currently has 450,000 hectares of coconut land, yielding 2,522 million nuts every years. Over 80 percent of the nuts are consumed locally and the rest are exported as copra and coconut oil.

Sri Lanka's Coconut Cultivation Board (CCB) has recommended axing 400,000 trees to prevent the disease from attacking the remaining trees.

"The estimated cost for cutting trees is over 750 million rupees (about 6.58 million U.S. dollars). The trees need to be destroyed to stop the disease from spreading to other districts," CCB Chairman J. Gunatilleke said.

Gunatilleke said over 20,000 trees in Hambantota, 80,000 in Galle and 285,000 trees in Matara have been marked to be axed as their palms have been completely eaten by the bacteria.

Source: Xinhua


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