Emerging Markets / May 26, 2017

Tall versus Dwarf Coconut Palm Trees in Asia

Tall and dwarf are the two main types of coconut bearing palm trees. Then there is the third variety, which are the hybrid strands developed from tall and dwarf palm trees. In the case of tall palm trees, these tend to live up to 90 years and reach a height of more than 15 meters. Similarly, tall palm trees do not require large amounts of water, grow better in coastal areas or littoral regions under 1.000 meters below sea level, and start yielding coconut fruits some eight years after sprouting. Tall palm trees are originally from the Indian Ocean region and prevalent in locations such as the Andaman Islands, Seychelles, the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka. It is estimated that it takes about 6.000 coconuts from a tall palm tree to yield a ton of copra, which is dried coconut meat from which oil is extracted.

In the case of dwarf palm trees, they live up to 50 years and grow to a height of 5 to 7 meters. This coconut palm tree variety begins to bear fruit a couple of years after sprouting and require large amounts of water. Likewise, dwarf palm trees yield round colorful coconuts with a high oil content of approximately 65%. Dwarf palm trees are originally from the region of Southeast Asia and are particularly prevalent in countries like Malaysia. This article explores the status of agriculture in the Indian Ocean and coconut-producing nation of Sri Lanka.

Tall versus Dwarf Coconut Palm Trees in Asia

The Republic of Sri Lanka is a small island nation immediately south of the Indian subcontinent. A diverse country, the island has been burdened for decades by a violent civil conflict. With a total territory of almost 66.000 square kilometers, Sri Lanka is somewhat larger than West Virginia. Geographically, the country has over 1.300 kilometers of coastline and is mainly flat with some mountains towards the interior. Furthermore, the tropical climate of Sri Lanka is dominated by the yearly cycle of the Monsoon rains.

Currently, the island nation has a total population of more than 22 million citizens, of which approximately 1 million live in or around the capital city of Colombo. However, less than 20% of the Sri Lankan population lives in an urban setting as opposed to a rural one. The national annual gross domestic product (GDP) is of about US$220 billion (purchasing power parity) and its national economy has experienced positive growth upwards of 4.0 % in recent years. The Sri Lankan economy is divided into 9% agriculture, 31% manufacturing, and 60% services. Similarly, the agricultural industry employs 28% of the national labor force, while manufacturing employs 26% and services employ another 46%. Meanwhile, the agriculture industry utilizes 44% of the national territory, while another 29% is forested.

In terms of natural resources, Sri Lanka has limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower, and arable land. Within manufacturing, the national industry is focused on agricultural processing, tobacco, telecommunications, shipping, clothing & textiles, cement, petroleum refining, and construction. Similarly, a large sector of the Sri Lankan economy is devoted to the tourism and services industry. Meanwhile, the country’s agricultural industry has as main products rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, vegetables, fruit, tea, rubber, coconuts, milk, eggs, hides, beef, and fish.

(Read more about Coconut Water Producers in Southeast Asia)