I’m still in the Philippines, but I’ve moved from rice to coconuts. That’s in terms of what I’m discussing, not what I’m eating. I’m participating in a meeting of the curators of the five different regional components of the International Coconut Genebank, organized by COGENT. There’s a lot of interesting stuff coming out, but what I wanted to share with you now (it’s actually the afternoon tea break) is something that was shown earlier today1 to illustrate the problems that conservation of coconuts in field genebanks can face.
The image below comes from Google Earth and shows a small piece of one of the largest and most important coconut genebanks in the world, at the Marc Delorme Research Station just outside Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Those large gaps in the otherwise beautifully laid out genebank were caused by lightning strikes! The labourers grow their cassava there now. I’d never heard of this particular threat to ex situ conserved agrobiodiversity. This particular parcel seems to have been particularly unlucky, attracting strikes repeatedly over the years.
- By Roland Bourdeix of CIRAD. [↩]