The Coconut (Cocos Nucifera Linn) is regarded to be of ancient origin and cultivated by people of Ceylon for its various uses for over thousands of years.
According to early Greek Chronicles, it was Megasthenes, Ambassador of the Seluces Nicater, who told the Indian King, Chandra Gupta about the Coconut Palm, he found in Sri Lanka in 300 BC. “The island, then, in the great sea, which they call Taprobane, has palm-groves, where the trees are planted with wonderful regularity all in a row, in the way we see the keepers of pleasure parks plant out shady trees in the choicest spots.”
Fa Hian in the fifth century A.D. claimed to have found coconuts and arrack available in Ceylon. Arab Traders Ibn Wahab and Abu Seyd are said to have had draughts of arrack in Ceylon, in the fifth century A.D.
Hence it is evident that the coconut was established in Ceylon by the dispersal and dissemination from the original home of Cocos Nucifera Linn either by the hand of man or by nature.
Coconuts enjoy a prestigious position in Sri Lankan society and it is interwoven with the culture and traditions of its people with over 80% of annual production consumed domestically. Every part of the coconut palm is strongly combined with the day to day life of the community. Therefore it has been christened as “Kapruka or Tree of Life” a source of plentiful resources.
The coconut cultivation covers 394,836 hectares, accounting for 19.26% of the total agricultural lands in Sri Lanka and 75 % of coconut growers are small and medium scale growers. The coconut cultivation is the direct and indirect livelihood of around 835,000 of people.
(Coconut Research Institute, 2011)