1.1 Background of study
Cocos nucifera commonly known as coconut belong to the family of Arecaceae and it is widely grown in southern Nigeria . Coconut is one of the most extensively grown and used nuts in the world and is rated as one of the most important of all palms (Onifade and Jeff- Agboola, 2003). The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) is found throughout the tropics, where it is interwoven into the lives of the local people. It is particularly important in the low islands of the Pacific where, in the absence of land-based natural resources, it provides almost all the necessary domestic utensils. For good reason, it has been called the “tree of heaven” and “tree of life.” It continues to have an important role in subsistence agriculture in that it is well suited to mixed cropping and provides not only life necessities but also food for livestock such as poultry and pigs. Today it remains an important economic and subsistence crop in some countries. Coconut is believed to have its origins in the Indo-Malayan region, from whence it spread throughout the tropics. Its natural habitat was the narrow sandy coast, but it is now found on soils ranging from pure sand to clays and from moderately acidic to alkaline. It is non-invasive, and people have been largely responsible for its spread, particularly inland from its natural habitat. It thrives under warm and humid conditions but will tolerate short periods of temperatures below 21°C (70°F). Its crown of feather-like fronds and bunches of large fruits carried atop long slender stems makes it easily recognizable. Coconut oil has for a long time been considered a valuable raw material above any other use, mainly after it was discovered that oil could be separated from copra. Coconut could then be stored and transported as copra, which is produced by drying the kernel, ideally down to 6% moisture for long storage. Laboratory analysis of moisture free copra reveals 65 to 69% oil. Afterwards, coconut oil became very popular as frying oil, shortening, and a substitute for dairy cream and butter in many recipes. Other edible oils, including soy, canola, cotton-seed and sunflower, and particularly palm oil, all began to compete for market share with coconut oil from the mid-20th century onwards. This nut is usually consumed in its raw form and most times eaten alongside with other products such as maize, cassava chips etc. Like most nut meats, coconut meat contains less sugar and protein of high nutritive value. It is relatively high in minerals such as iron, phosphorus and zinc. Coconut oil (copra oil) extracted from the nutmeat of matured fruits is white, glycerine rich, semi-solid, stable in air and is used for cooking and manufacture of cosmetics, chocolate, candy and ice cream. The oil has been shown to have antifungal properties. Coconut can also be used to produce desired texture in cookies, cakes, pies, salads and desserts. However, microrganisms cause spoilage of coconut and thereby depreciate the quality of fresh coconut, and its consumption can lead to food poisoning. (Onifade and Jeff- Agboola, 2003).
1.2 Statement of problem
Microbial infections are known to reduce the productivity of crops and its associated products. Based on the importance of coconut in terms of food and drinks, coupled with the fact that much work has not been done on the role of microbial infections on its nutritional composition. There is thus a need for such a work in view of the high demand for coconut meal and oil in the country. The paper reports on the microganisms associated with post harvest deterioration of coconut fruits and their effects on the nutritional composition of the produce.
1.3 Significance of study
Microrganisms are responsible for rot of coconut and thereby depreciate the quality of fresh coconut, its consumption can lead to food poisoning and other intoxication which can lead to loss of man power and loss of life. Therefore this work will aid to identify those microrganism which are associated with the spoilage of coconut. Also, the study of the approximate composition of coconut will aid in establishing the nutritional, mineral and pharmacological properties of coconut and also show the possible level of of nutritional acceptance of coconut.
The main aim of this study is to assess the microbiology and proximate composition of coconut.
To evaluate the total heterotrophic bacteria count
To isolate, characterize and identify the microrganisms associated with coconut fruit.
To assess the proximate composition of coconut.
To compare the nutritional content with that of other nuts in mkpat Enin L.G.A.