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Whitefly infestation hits SL’s King Coconut plantations hard

June 16, Colombo (LNW): The Coconut Development Board has reported a significant impact on king coconut plantations across the island due to recent infestations of whiteflies, which have shown a marked preference for the yellow-hued fruit over traditional coconut varieties.

Officials briefed Agriculture and Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera on the issue during a meeting at the ministry on the 14th, noting a 36 per cent decline in king coconut exports as a result of the pest’s damage.

The dry conditions of recent years exacerbated the spread of the whitefly, prompting a government initiative in 2023 to treat coconut and king coconut crops with Margosa oil extract, costing Rs. 80 million, successfully mitigating extensive crop losses.

This year’s improved rainfall has contributed to a reduction in whitefly populations, aiding the recovery of coconut and king coconut cultivation.

Despite progress, the shortage of ripe king coconuts persists, impacting the income of local farmers heavily reliant on export earnings.

In response, Amaraweera has directed the Coconut Development Board and the Cultivation Board to collaborate on a district-based initiative to cultivate king coconut seedlings, aligning with plans to establish 160 youth Agri-entrepreneurship villages nationwide.

Currently, Sri Lanka exports 200 containers annually, equating to 15 million king coconuts, each valued at Rs. 250.

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