By Dr. S.M. ALAM
Nov 26 - Dec 02, 2001
Coconut (Cocos nuciferaL.) locally known as
Narial is the most important of the economic species of palms. It
grows mostly in areas lying within the latitudes 20°N and 20°S of
the equator. The family Palmae, with about 4000 species, is widespread
in tropical regions of the world. Its members are monocotyledonous,
mostly with tall, straight, unbranched trunks carrying a canopy of
pinnate or digitate leaves, highly ornamental and attractive. At
present in Pakistan, coconut is an important palm tree. It is
cultivated in the southern parts of Sindh, and it has been planted in
houses, farms on a preliminary basis for the last two decades.
Nowadays, the fruits are easily available in the local market. The
coconut fruit has a nut which grows to the size of a man's head,
containing an edible substance that is sweet and pleasant to the taste
and white as milk. Fruit is a large nut, three-sided, with a thick and
tough husk and a hard interior shell, each weighing about 1 to 2 kg or
more, when fresh. The cavity of this pulp is filled with a liquid
clear as water, cool and better flavored and more delicious than wine
or any other kind of drink whatever. It is propagated by seeds (whole
nuts) or by tissue culture.
Nowadays, the important coconut growing countries
are the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka the South Sea
Islands, Malaysia and Bangladesh. In these countries, coconut is
cultivated as a commercial crop, while in parts of USA (Florida and
Hawaii), it is an ornamental avenue tree. The Philippines with about
10000 million nuts per year ranks first in the world production.
Indonesia with about 8000 million nuts ranks second and India with
about 6000 million nuts comes next.
Coconut is a monococious plant producing male and
female flowers on the same tree, but in different parts of the same
inflorescence. There are number of varieties, which are generally
classified as tall or dwarf. In the tall varieties, male flowers open
for ahead of the females which are thus essentially cross-pollinated.
The dwarf trees, on the other hand, are mostly self-pollinated and the
progeny often breed true to the seed. The tall trees are heterozygous
and the male parent is generally extraneous.
The importance of the coconut palm lies in the fact
that each and every part of the tree is economically useful. Coconut
is largely grown by farmers and the bulk of the produce is diposed of
in the form of nuts, and about 80% is used for edible purposes. The
water of the tender coconut is a nutrition's and wholesome beverage.
It contains sugar, minerals, amino acids and vitamin C. The percentage
of amino acids in protein are higher than in cows' milk. Coconut water
is therefore, used in infant food. It is also used for embryo culture.
In combination with egg yolk, coconut water serves as a diligent and
carrier for bore and cattle semen used for artificial insemination,
which helps in extending the lifetime of semen from about two days to
eight days. The products of commercial importance are kernel, copra,
oil, oil-cake and fiber. The kernel is much valued as food, and uses
in culinary preparations as well as in the preposition of candies,
sweets and other confectionery. Oil from the ripe kernel is one of the
important edible oils of the people of Asian countries. For nearly
1000 coconuts, about 60 kg of choir can be made. Choir making is
mostly a cottage industry. Extracted fiber is used for making floor
mats, ropes, twines, rubberized rugs, bags, fish containers, cushions
etc. In addition to these commercially important products, the trunk
is used as a building material and for making furniture. The leaves,
after planting, are utilized for thatching houses and the midrib of
the leaf for making brooms and brushes. The juice from the
inflorescence is converted into jugglery, sugar, vinegar and sweet or
fermented toddy. Coconut tree produces materials for house
construction, basket making and juice a popular drink either fresh or
terminated. The coconut is the palm commonly tapped either for the
sweet or fermented juice. Since the coconut produces inflorescence all
the year round, tapping is done throughout the year. Coconut jugglery
is used for sweetening food items. Thus, coconut fruit is a bless to
the human beings.