Notes to broadcasters on coconut lethal yellowing disease:

    | August 4, 2008

    Download this story

    Lethal yellowing is a disease that affects more than 38 species of palm trees. As we noted in the story, the first warning signs of the disease in coconut trees are coconuts dropping prematurely, followed by the yellowing of leaves. Eventually, the leaves turn brown. In the span of six months, all of the foliage falls, leaving the trunk bare. By killing the trees, this disease destroys the livelihoods of those who sell coconuts or produce products like coconut oil.

    And it’s not only in Ghana that lethal yellowing disease is ravaging coconut trees. The adjacent coast of Togo is also affected, and also Nigeria. The coastline of Ivory Coast, another of Ghana’s neighbours, seems to have been spared. In East Africa Tanzania and Kenya are affected.

    The International Coconut Genetic Resources Network (COGENT), in association with Biodiversity International, is a network of coconut producers. The network’s goals are to improve the production and use of coconut and to conserve the biodiversity of coconut trees. Through the organization’s website ( you can find resource people, listed by country. You may wish to interview a local resource person for a program on coconut trees. To obtain free copies of COGENT’s publication, contact Yeow Giap Seng at:

    You can also find out more about coconut growing through discussion groups hosted on Yahoo! and Google. The Yahoo! group is dedicated to coconut lethal yellowing disease while the Google group discusses everything about coconuts. If you have questions about coconuts, discussion forums can be a good place to find answers.

    The Centre de Coopération International en Recherche Agronomique Pour le Développement (CIRAD) website provides several interesting resources (available in French only):
    -This link introduces a study on coconut lethal yellowing disease in Ghana. You can also find details about an international workshop on the disease that was held in Accra, last June:
    -An article published in March 2006: “Lethal yellowing in coconut trees in Ghana, a new hybrid is tested”:
    -A presentation entitled: “Lethal yellowing disease in Ghana: one researcher’s impressions and observations”:

    Finally, the following Farm Radio International scripts may complement your programming on coconut lethal yellowing disease:
    -“Grow vegetable crops with coconuts” (Package 55, Script 3, April 2000)
    -”‘Survival’ crops provide food during times of need” (Package 67, Script 2, June 2003)