IPI International Potash Institute
IPI International Potash Institute

Editorial: e-ifc No. 17, September 2008

Editorial

Dear Readers,

IPI and NATESC (China) summarizing a three-year fertigation experiment in apple through a workshop and field visit to the orchard. Penglay, Yantai, Shandong, China. Photo by IPI.
IPI and NATESC (China) summarizing a three-year fertigation experiment in apple through a workshop and field visit to the orchard. Penglay, Yantai, Shandong, China. Photo by IPI.

Agricultural research is driven by many factors, including its impact on food security, farmers' incomes, expansion into marginal lands, and so forth. Yet, many crops are "deprived" of the concerted research efforts crops such as maize, wheat and rice have enjoyed during recent decades. Cassava, for example, is defined by the FAO as a neglected "orphan crop". Despite its growing demand and production potential, FAO points out that governments are yet to make the much needed investments in value-added research that would make cassava starch products competitive on an international scale. There are many reasons for this, and mostly it is the fact that this crop is being grown mainly in areas that have little or no access to improved varieties, fertilizer and other production inputs. It is also produced mostly by small-scale farmers often cut off from marketing channels.

Coconut is another crop important to small-scale farmers in what FAO describes as "Low Income Food Deficit Countries". Since 1990, average world yields have been increasing by only 1.1 per cent each year. It will be interesting to see how the productivity of this crop will be affected by the doubling in the price of coconut oil between 2006-08 to its current price of USD 1,000/mt. However, there is no doubt that agricultural research should provide the tools for increasing productivity and enabling farmers to take advantage of this price opportunity.

IPI has recently conducted research work on coconut, and in this latest edition of e-ifc we feature more about the response of this crop to different levels of potassium in different agroclimatic zones in Sri Lanka, the fourth largest coconut producer in the world. This is our modest contribution to increased productivity in a crop so important to many poor farmers.

I wish you all an enjoyable read.

Hillel Magen
Director