The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has turned to embryo culture to increase and conserve the production of a certain coconut variety to produce xylose, a kind of sugar isolated from coconut shell.
The agency said its Zamboanga Research Center (ZRC) is using embryo culture in propagating the coconut variety Tutupaen tall coconut, which is native to Ilocos. The Tutupaen tall’s thick coconut shell contains xylose, which is used to produce xylitol, an anti-diabetic natural sweetener.
Market demand for the coconut shell is thus high due to its xylose content. “The coconut shell is one of the best sources of xylose (wood sugar). Korean and Japanese investors have started mass producing xylose in Davao using coconut shell. We expect the Tutupaen tall variety’s distinct thick shell could provide higher volume of xylose than the normal coconut varieties,” ZRC officer –in-charge Ramon L. Rivera said.
Conserving the Tutupaen tall will also add value to the local coconut, which also employs embryo culture in generating more macapuno seedlings.
“The focus now is on high value and emerging products. Macapuno meat has now been recognized as the best source for galactomannan, protein and virgin coconut oil. Embryo culture] EC technology is the only protocol that best suits the mass production of macapuno,” said Rivera.
The country also using the technology in promoting germplasm exchange with other coconut-producing countries to enable it to get other coconut varieties.
“This technology addresses more the conservation and exchange of coconut germplasm. We are embarking on collecting Neu Afa variety from Solomon Islands and other Pacific Islands for coconut husks,” Rivera said.
ZRC proposed to partner with the Bureau of Agricultural Research in identifying other coconut varieties with commercial uses, such as in the production of virgin coconut oil and coconut sugar.
The Philippines counts coconuts as one of its biggest agricultural export earners. Annualy, coconut exports account for $1 billion in foreign exchange earnings.
According to Rivera, its research and devleopment activities on embryo culture, undertaken with funding from Bioversity International, led to germplasm exchange programs with Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka.
As a result of these exchange prorgams, the country was able to get a drought-resistant coconut variety from Africa that can survive for several months even without water or rainfall. (GMA News)Source: Cocommunity, Vol. XLII No.2, 1 February 2012