Continuing with this article series about the magical Sri Lankan coconuts derived from the ‘Tree of Life’, let’s get into where these nutritious fruits actually come from?
Most believe that South East Asia is where coconuts were first grown and enjoyed by the locals of the land. When Austronesian mariners began to settle in the Indian Ocean, the growing of coconut trees then began to extended to the regions of Asia-Pacific.
To no surprise, as a result, sailors from South Asian, Arabic, and European nations began transporting down and/or trading coconuts with other nations along the Indian and Atlantic sea shores. America began getting involved in the coconut trade in the time of the colonial era - which is/was known as the Columbian exchange.
- Columbia Exchange: simply put, was basically the process of how commodities and people crossed the Atlantic Ocean.
The positives were that plants and animals were then able to be transferred between continents. However, the flip-side of that coin, is the negative. This Exchange was also how diseases spread throughout the world.
This was a perfect example of how greed took over and the risk clearly far out-weighed the reward.
So, this all being said, what is the answer to the question, where did coconuts truly come from? Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia are the countries that hold the title of where the growing of coconuts originally began. It’s where the ‘Tree of Life’ put its roots into mother earth.
Nevertheless, in terms of commerce, commercial coconut farming begun in South Asian nations like India, Maldives and in the lush lands of beautiful Sri Lanka.
The Growth of the Coconut Trade in Sri Lanka
As was previously noted, Sri Lanka is one of the five major nations where
commercial coconut growing initially began. One of the main reasons behind this, is the lands soil.
In terms of optimal growing conditions, the best soil and climate for the growing of coconuts, is that of soil comprised of both sandy and salty textures. And what do you know, the Sri Lankan lowlands are full of such soil.
It’s a marriage made in botanical heaven!
Around its coasts, Sri Lanka is an island with a wealth of such soil. If you travel to the southern part of the island, you will undoubtedly see Sri Lanka's stunning beaches that are adorned with famously photographed coconut palms, leaning toward the water. Because of its deliciousness and high worth, coconuts have become one of Sri Lanka's main commercial crops.
Fun Fact: If you’re from Sri Lanka, then you’d refer to coconuts as “Poi”.
In Sri Lanka, coconut trees predominantly grow in three different types.
1. The Standard variety – which is the tall variety
2. The dwarf variety
3. The King Coconut variety.
All of these three varieties of coconuts, have played a significant role in positioning Sri Lanka as a major player in the coconut business. Of the three different varieties, the King Coconut is at the top of the list of importance. We’ve briefly touched on the King Coconut earlier in this article series; however, we will be diving deeper into this magical “King” in the following article. So, for now, just know that the "Thambili" as commonly referred to by local Sri Lankans, is chock-full of nutrients that are vital for a healthy life.
To be continued…
It’s quite obvious that Sri Lanka has proven to be an ideal location to grow these wonderful, nutritious fruits. The idealistic combination between the perfect climate and salty soil found in this part of the world, puts Sri Lanka at the top of the list of commercial growers that fulfill the coconut demands from the rest of the world.
There is no surprise that this magical fruit has found its way onto the ingredients list of food recipes from different cultures, to natural medicines.
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