Samui coconuts make full recovery

14 Mar 2011

Coconut plantations on Samui Island are gradually recovering from a bug infestation that has decimated them over the past few years. The insect damage and subsequent razing of the island’s coconut trees, as owners could no longer gain an income from them, led many tourists to say Samui was losing its natural charms.   

Hispine beetles, in Thai known as Malaeng damnarm, began attacking Samui plantations and also those in Prachuap Khiri Khan, the other major Thai coconut producing region, in 2004. The damage caused by the beetles was exacerbated by black-headed caterpillars in 2008.  

As the damage to coconut plantations increased, proprietors sold the land to property developers or cut down the infested trees and converted the land to other crops. The corresponding shortage of coconuts caused a massive increase in the price of coconuts and coconut cream.    

Coconuts are a refreshing beverage when served chilled on a hot day, but are also an essential ingredient in Thai cuisine and feature prominently in dishes such as green curry (kaeng khiew wan) and thap thim krob water chestnut desserts.

Due to the dearth of coconut trees, their fruit has increased in price from around 3.50 Baht a coconut to 18 currently. The rise in price means that the monkeys traditionally employed to climb the lofty trees and pick the coconuts now garner extra income for their owners.

To replace the lost plantations Samui authorities have begun a programme that hopes to plant one million coconut saplings and preserve the island’s reputation as Coconut Paradise for future generations. 

Tags: Samui coconuts recovery

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