Coconut: “The Tree of Life” ( Mai Kao Yang )

Coconut: “The Tree of Life”

Mai Kao Yang

History (in theory)

  • Theory

-80 million years ago

-Southern Hemisphere, Gondwana


  • 4th-century B.C., Sanskrit’s writing

  • 1st –century to 4th century A.D, Tamil literature

  • India

-2-3 thousands years ago, making it the oldest traditional crop grown

  • Marco Polo

–  Expedition to India, recognize it as the “Pharaoh’s nut”

–  India

  • Kerala state is the lead of production in India

-Located at the south tip, bordering water and closest to equator

Coconut Management

  • Highly sensitive to soil moisture

-Rainfall total of 1800 mm evenly throughout the year

-As little as 1000 mm will prove to be optimum

-Takes up to a year for coconuts to mature

oBloom up to thirteen times a year

oContinuous harvest year-round

oAverage harvest of 60 coconuts/ tree

oSome trees yielding at three times that amount



  • Coconut crab aka robber crab

-Type of hermit crab

-1 meter in length

-3 kilogram in weight

-Can actually drown

  • Cattle

-By-product (oil cake) of coconut after extraction for oil fuel

Health Concern?!?!

  • 1930, misconception that coconut and coconut oil are health hazard

-Thought to cause heart disease

-Is pretty “fatty”, little over 50% of coconut contain medium chain fatty acid, Lauric acid

-Once in the human body it changes to monlaurins , which is found in mother’s breast milk

  • Coconut is the next best option to breast milk

  • Powerful against

    – Antibacterial

    – Antiviral

    – Antifungal agents

    – HIV are sensitive to coconut oil

    •Excellent moisturizer for dry skin

    •Coconut oil is absorbed quickly and give energy like


Addition Health Benefits


  • Epic, classic Hindu stories: Ramayana

  • Coconut hold a high place in the Indian culture, no ritual or ceremony is performed without it

-Used in both social and religious ceremonies: worshipping, marriages, festivals, decorations, etc.

  • Small farmers are the backbone to the coconut culture

  • Coconut provide sole income but, the price of coconut is determined by coconut oil which is influence by supplies and demand

Case Study~ Coir Women Workers

Vaikom Taluk

  • Small village factory

  • 13% are without electricity

  • Employ regular 8-10 women each day

  • Normal shift: 8 to 6 p.m.

  • High demand: two shift period

-6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

-2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

  • Lunch hours 1.5 hours

  • Don’t interact with the middleman

Kadakkarappally Panchaysat

  • Home-based cottage industry

  • 50% are without electricity

  • Majority of the women in the village work in the factory

  • Work every day, except Sunday,

  • Shift from 8 to 5:30 p.m.

  • Work outside in all types of weather

  • Interact with the middleman



  • Mix-cropping system

-Australia: coconut, cocoa, coffee along with cattle grazing

-Ceylon/ Sri Lanka: coconut, tea, and rubber

  • Coir products: husk from the coconut are bio-degradability

  • India

-Biomass fuel supply average size family, 30-40 palm tree

  • Coconut oil fuel

-By- products: “oil cake” is fed to cattle

“The day of coconut as mainly or solely a monoculture appears to   be almost over.”

The end

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