POPULATION STRUCTURE, DISPERSION PATTERN AND SEEDLING GROWTH OF GEWANG PALM (Corypa utan Lam.) IN TIMOR ISLAND, INDONESIA
Food insecurity has been reported to be the highest in East Nusa Tenggara (Timor island) compared to that in other provinces in Indonesia. The use of local species is one solution to fight against food insecurity. Gewang (Corypha utan Lam.) is a palm species which produces starch similar to true sago palm (Metroxylon sagu). Information on current population and seedling growth performance is still lacking, although it is important to promote the species as a starch crop. To address this problem, a one-hectare plot was surveyed and an experimental plot was established for population and regeneration analyses. Our results show that in the 1 ha plot there were 31 productive trees, 2 post productive trees, 63 immature trees and 2,211 seedlings. The dispersion pattern of the species was considered as clumped for immature trees and seedlings, but shifted to random when they reach mature or productive phase. The seedling performances were stable when weeded, but dropped to 50% if un-weeded. In conclusion, despite of stem extraction for starch consumption, population of C. utan in East Nusa Tenggara can exhibit a stable condition. This indicates that C. utan in East Nusa Tenggara has the potential to be an alternative source of food, especially in dry land areas such as Timor Island and adjacent regions, in order to build food security in Indonesia.
Corypha utan, East Nusa Tenggara, food, local, starch
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