Sunday, April 07, 2013

Kudat’s golden fruit — The Coconut

KUDAT, the northern district of Sabah, has always been known for its coconut groves.

The cococut tree, found throughout the tropics, has many uses, including oil from the kernel.

In Kudat, the people dry the kernel for copra from which coconut oil is extracted and used for frying, cooking, and making margarine.

Other uses include coconut extracts for savoury dishes, biscuits and cakes as well as chocolate bars.

Recently, in Kudat, the Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) was making its presence felt. VCO is a coconut by-product, believed to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antipyretic and antiviral properties.

Chong Shui Yin, 62, who owns 15 acres of coconut groves, said it is because of these health values that the people of Kudat should not abandon coconut planting.

“I have noticed many people resorting to other commercial crops that are more viable in today’s market. These include oil palm.”

He is sad that huge coconut grove tracts are disappearing because other cash crops are preferred.

“I believe in development just like anyone else. I’m happy we are moving ahead with the rest of the world in this respect. I commend those planting oil palm because it’s a lucrative venture, even with the fluctuating market.”

However, he pointed out that this should not mean the old commodity (like coconuts) coming from this part of the state should be forgotten altogether.

“I know the old coconut trees are getting too tall and no longer suitable and it was with this in mind that I replanted new trees provided by the Agriculture Department.”

Chong planted Matag Coconut to replace the old trees his father, a Chinese immigrant who came to the state before the Second World War, planted before him.

“When I inherited this farm from my father, I was getting a bit apprehensive about the tall trees. How could I possibly harvest the coconuts unless we waited for them to drop and sell them as matured fruits. We also couldn’t get to the young ones for their water because of the tall trees.”

A well-known and well-liked personality in Kudat, Chong was in the know about new strains of coconuts from the Agriculture Department so when he heard about Matag, he was quick to apply for it.

“I’m very happy and satisfied with this strain. It has big fruits and thick kernels which are very useful for copra,” he said, adding that it also grew fast and bore fruits in less than five years.

“The Matag strain is very good and highly recommended for planters who want to replant or clear new land for planting.”

Chong who is usually in his farm in Kampung Kimihang to monitor pests like squirrels, said he is now harvesting hiscoconuts and drying them for copra.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Kudat’s golden fruit — The Coconut