Improving Sustainable Coconut Production in Hawaii through Producer-Driven Tissue Culture Propagation and Threat Education

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $24,949.00
Projected End Date: 03/01/2027
Grant Recipient: New Eden Farms
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Halina Smolak
New Eden Farms


  • Agronomic: other
  • Fruits: other
  • Nuts: other
  • Vegetables: other
  • Additional Plants: other
  • Animals: other
  • Animal Products: other
  • Miscellaneous: other


  • Crop Production: nurseries, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal summary:

    The global coconut market was valued at $4 billion in 2021 and is
    projected to reach $7 billion by 2027. North America has the most
    significant demand for coconut products globally. Hawaii is the
    most significant producer of coconuts in the US.  Production
    has not been sufficient to meet market demands.

    The coconut industry in Hawaii faces two major threats, both of
    which this proposal seeks to mitigate. First, the coconut
    rhinoceros beetle (CRB) feeds on emerging palm fronds causing
    severe damage that can kill the plant. Secondly, lethal yellowing
    (LY) is a disease that kills coconuts worldwide. As of yet,
    Hawaii has not found evidence of LY. In order to prepare for the
    likely emergence of LY, this proposal seeks to provide superior
    planting material of LY-resistant coconuts. By expanding the
    availability of coconut planting materials, we hope to mitigate
    the impact of LY and CRB in Hawaii.

    Unless preventative and mitigating measures are implemented, CRB
    and LY can devastate the coconut industry. This devastation would
    impact Hawaii's cultural heritage, agriculture, ecosystem, and
    economy. Both research and educational outreach is needed to grow
    and maintain a sustain coconut industry in the face of these

    The research objective is to test two coconut varieties for the
    lowest cost and technically simplest tissue culture method to
    produce disease-resistant coconut palms.  Propagating the
    coconut palm through constraint-minded tissue culture offers a
    mechanism to rapidly increase the number of disease-resistant
    coconut palms.

    We will post on social media once a week to update on the
    research and provide useful information on disease and pest
    control, coconut growing, tissue culture, and nursery
    management.  We will hold field days that consist of
    workshops and community presentations.  The aim of these
    efforts is to educate stakeholders and assist producer-adoption
    of sustainable agriculture practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research Objective: To test the difference between two coconut
    varieties for the lowest cost and technically simplest tissue
    culture method to produce disease-resistant coconut palms in
    order to mitigate the impact of the coconut rhinoceros beetle and
    lethal yellowing in Hawaii.

    Education Objective: To educate producers, stakeholders,
    students, agricultural professionals, etc., regarding the threats
    facing the sustainability of the coconut industry in Hawaii,
    namely from the threats of coconut rhinoceros beetle and lethal

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.