damages east coast coconut plots
Coconut plantations may have suffered some damage from the December
26 tsunamis which ravaged the island's eastern and southern coastline
killing over 30,000 people.
the desiccated coconut industry is not affected as it gets its supplies
from large estates in the north-western 'coconut triangle' which
was not affected at all by the tsunami. Most DC mills are closed
at this time of year.
Jayantha Gunatilake, chairman of the Coconut Cultivation Board (CCB),
said initial estimates suggested that some 20-30 percent of the
cultivated palms could have been affected by the huge waves which
swamped large swathes of the coastline.
sandy soil in coastal areas is considered suitable for coconut cultivation
but excessive levels of salinity in plots inundated by sea water
could affect coconut production.
Gunatilake said there was some damage to coconut seedlings, more
severely in the east coast, which bore the brunt of the tsunami
as it was directly in line with the submarine earthquake's epicentre
off Sumatra island across the Indian Ocean.
have an estate in Pottuvil (on the south-east coast) which has been
affected," he said. However, Denzil Aponso, chairman of the
Coconut Growers Association, said coconut production in the main
growing areas does not appear to have been affected.
has not been much damage," he said. There was hardly any impact
on coconut cultivation on the west coast, the main growing area,
Aponso said. He said he did not have much information about the
east coast but added that many palms there had been neglected and
were not contributing much to the national crop after being struck
by a cyclone some 20 years ago.
cyclone badly damaged the palms which were not replanted and many
estates were abandoned. Aponso also said he believes coconut trees
submerged for a few minutes by sea water would not suffer much damage
and that the effects of salinity in the sand were "marginal."
However, the CCB's Dr Gunatilake said that while coconut trees can
tolerate salinity to some extent, 3-4 months of rain would be required
to wash away excessive salinity in the soil.
coconut trees, mainly old ones, on the east coast had been uprooted
by the fast moving water, causing permanent damage to plots. Dr
Gunatilake said he had visited the southern Galle district, which
was also badly affected, and had seen some trees withering because
they could not tolerate sea water.