The intention of the event is to get coconut-producing countries and international organisations to discuss the future of coconut genetic resources conservation.
The steering committee of Cogent is meeting with other international coconut stakeholders at the Tanoa International Hotel to determine how best to sustain the conservation and use of coconut genetic diversity for the Asia-Pacific region and globally.
According to biodiversity.org, apart from its obvious importance to Fiji and the Asia-Pacific region (which accounts for 80% of global production), coconut is grown in around 100 tropical countries, on more than 12 million hectares and by countless homesteads, and is culturally and economically important to many millions of smallholder households.
Annual global output is estimated at around 61 million tonnes (copra, coir, water and oil), with a gross value of more than $50 billion.
"Coconut diversity is conserved as around 1500 accessions in 24 field genebanks across the world, which face various threats. The future of coconut production and associated livelihoods critically depends on growers having ready access to the broad genetic diversity of this crop. Most plantations' and smallholders' palms are senile and relatively unproductive, and need replanting," biodiversity.org said.
The 27 participants in the Cogent meeting will represent 12 coconut-growing countries (Fiji, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Tonga) and six international organisations.
The event has been sponsored by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Research, Bioversity International, CIRAD, the Fijian government, SPC and the UK Darwin Initiative.