Coconuts, Spices & Other Crops
Coconut cultivation

The Cultivation of coconuts as a plantation crop in Sri Lanka followed the birth of the soap industry in Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century. The soap industry expanded rapidly and then came margarine as a substitute for butter, which further increased the demand for coconut oil.

From 1840 to 1860 was the era of planting by Europeans mainly in the Jaffna and Batticaloa districts; thereafter, the Ceylonese brought many thousands of acres of jungle under coconut cultivation in the Western and North-Western provinces where they established many large estates and small-holdings. Cultivation extended gradually into other parts of the Island and coconuts were successfully grown as a plantation crop even in the hill country far from the sea.

Approximately 82% of Sri Lanka’s coconut cultivation extent came under small holdings of less than 8 ha, according to Ministry of Plantation Industries’ statistics for 2008. It is grown in an extent of about 394,836 hectares, which is equivalent to 20% of the cultivable land in the country and provides livelihood for nearly 0.5 million people.

Present status of the Coconut Industry

Highlights A 2015 2016 2017
Total Nut production (Mn) 3,0563,0112,450
Extent under Coconut
('000 Ha)
Total Export Earnings
(Rs. Mn)
Average Yield 7765**7670**6769**
** - Estimated
r - Revised

Ministry of plantation industries, Performance 2017 report

Other Crops

The Sri Lankan plantation industry has also diversified into other crops such as spices and palm oil. Sri Lanka is currently the largest producer of true cinnamon in the world. Other spices include cloves, nutmeg, pepper, arecanut, cocoa and coffee.