Coconut Cultivation in Cambodia

Coconut Cultivation in Cambodia

The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropical world. Coconut trees are also growing at numerous places in Cambodia, however, most of them can be found in the South Eastern part of the country. There is no large-scale commercial cultivation of coconut palms or coconut industry in Cambodia and no data on coconut production.  An initial survey conducted back in 2004 showed that there were at least 12 million coconut palms in Cambodia. Coconut is a kind of fruit crop that Cambodia people like to plant around their land as landscape. It doesn’t require much soil, it can be planted near by the pond or just plant it to be the mark of land territory.

Coconut fruit giving the natural drink with numerous of health benefits.  Not only the green fruit that we need, but the ripe one also very needed for its coconut milk using in various kinds of Khmer foods and Khmer desserts such as Khmer Chicken Curry, Samlor Khtis, Prohok Khtis, Chek Khtis, etc.   Coconut trees, stems and leaves also provide various benefits for Cambodian people, for instance as decoration or many culinary and non-culinary uses. Virtually every part of the coconut palm provides opportunities for human uses.

Wholesale Price : $0.25 pick at farms
Retail Price : $0.50 - $1.50 differ greatly how and where they are served and its variety
Spacing​​​​​​ : 7.5m x 7.5m 
Plant Population : 177 trees per hectares
Plant Age : 60 years
Yield : Around 7 years after planting
Productivity : An eleven year old coconut garden was considered at 60 coconuts per tree
Unit cost : The cost of coconut cultivation in one hectare of oil palm works out to US$1,500
Variety : Cambodia has many varieties of coconut.  During this study, we have not touched on it but hope one day we are able to dig into this industry deeper.
Production Site : Coconut trees are especially found in Takeo, Kampot, Kep, Preah Sihanoukville and Koh Kong.

Income: One hectare of 177 coconut palms and each produces 60 fruits for a current price of $0.25 per fruit, it is giving you $2,655.  By having 12 hectares of coconut farm, you are making $2,655 per month.

Utilization of Coconut - Apart from tender nut supplies coconut water, a popular thirst quencher of health and hygienic value, coconut industry is mainly confined to traditional activities such as copra making, oil extraction, coir manufacture & toddy tapping. Coconut products such as virgin coconut oil, desiccated coconut, coconut water based vinegar, coconut water are also made. However, coconut milk based beverages, coconut chips, coconut based handicrafts, shell powder, shell charcoal and shell based activated carbon are manufactured on a limited scale. Coir and coir based industry is one of the major segments using coconut byproducts mainly the husk.

Preparation of land - Size of the pit depends on the soil type and water table. In laterite soils large pits of the size 1.2m x 1.2m x 1.2 m may be dug and filled up with loose soil, powdered cow dung and ash up to a depth of 60 cm before planting. In loamy soils, pits of size 1m x 1m x 1m filled with top soil to height of 50 cm is recommended. While filling the pits, two layers of coconut husk can be arranged at the bottom of the pit with concave surface facing upwards for moisture conservation. After arranging each layer, BHC 10% DP should be sprinkled on the husk to prevent termite attack. In laterite soils, common salt @ 2 kg per pit may be applied, six months prior, on the floor of the pit to soften the hard pans.

Soil - The coconut palm can tolerate wide range of soil conditions. But the palm does show certain growth preferences. A variety of factors such as drainage, soil depth, soil fertility and layout of the land has great influence on the growth of the palm. The major soil types that support coconut are laterite, alluvial, red sandy loam, coastal sandy and reclaimed soils with a pH ranging from 5.2 to 8.0.

Selection of Site - Soil with a minimum depth of 1.2m and fairly good water holding capacity is preferred for coconut cultivation. Shallow soils with underlying hard rock, low lying areas subjected to water stagnation and clayey soils should be avoided. Proper supply of moisture either through well distributed rainfall or irrigation and sufficient drainage are essential for coconut.

Spacing - In general square system of planting with a spacing of 7.5m x 7.5m is recommended for coconut. This will accommodate 177 palms per hectare. However, spacing of 7.5 to 10 m is practiced in various coconut growing regions of the country.

Planting Material & Planting - Vigorous seedlings which are one year old, having minimum of six leaves and girth of 10 cm at the collar level should be selected for planting in the main field.  However, 18 - 24 month old seedlings are preferred for planting in water logged areas. Planting the seedlings during start of rainy season which is in May ideal.

Irrigation - Coconut responds well to summer irrigation. Under basin irrigation, 200 litres per palm once in four days will be beneficial. In areas where water is scarce drip irrigation system can be adopted. The quantity of water recommended for drip irrigation in coconut is 66 per cent of the open pan evaporation.

Harvesting - Coconuts are harvested at varying intervals in a year. The frequency differs in different areas depending upon the yield of the trees. In well maintained and high yielding gardens, bunches are produced regularly and harvesting is done once a month.

Coconuts become mature in about 12 months after the opening of the spathe. It is the ripe coconut which is the source of major coconut products. Nuts which are eleven months old give fibre of good quality and can be harvested in the tracts where green husks are required for the manufacture of coir fibre. Economic life of the coconut palm can be considered as 60 years.

Pests & Diseases


The major insect pests of the coconut palm are the eriophyid mite, rhinoceros beetle, the leaf eating caterpillar, red palm weevil, leaf eating caterpillar and the root eating white grub. These pests can be controlled by adopting the following measures.

Eriophyid mite: This is a serious pest of coconut. Root feeding of commercial neem formulations containing 5 % azadirachtin @ 7.5 ml + 7.5 ml water. Spraying neem oil - garlic - soap mixture @ 2 per cent concentration (200 ml of neem oil + 50g soap + 200 g of garlic mixed in 10 litres of water).

 Rhinoceros beetle: The beetle attacks fronds and cuts the leaves before opening. Killing the beetles mechanically by hooks is the most effective measure. The breeding places such as decaying organic matter, FYM, dead palms, etc. should be treated with insecticides. Biological control by release of Oryctes baculovirus inoculatede beetles @10-15 per ha bring down the pest population. Spraying of 250 mg fungal culture of Metarhizium anisopliae diluted with 750 ml water per sq.m. of breeding site helds to reduce the pest population.

Leaf eating caterpillar: This insect eats green portion of the plant. Spraying insecticides like dichlorvos 0.02 per cent and biological control using larval and pupal parasites can control the pest effectively.

Red palm weevil: The larva of the weevil bores into the trunk and feeds on the inner tissue making large holes. Externally exudation of reddish gum is only visible. The palm may die if the attack is severe. Early stage of infestation can be controlled by pouring 1 per cent carbaryl. Pheromone lures can be used for trapping the insect.

White Grub: The insect causes damage to the roots. Applying phorate 10 G @ 100g/palm during May-June and September-October gives effective control over the pest.


Coconut palm is affected by a number of diseases, some of which are lethal while others gradually reduce the vigor of the palm causing severe loss in the yield. Important diseases are bud rot, root wilt, leaf rot, leaf blight, mahali or fruit rot and nut fall, stem bleeding, ganoderma wilt, Crown choking disease, etc. Control measures of some of these diseases are stated briefly below.

Bud rot: Young plants are damaged most. Application of copper oxychloride @ 4g /l of water or Bordeux mixture in the leaf area can control the disease.

Stem bleeding: Exudation of reddish brown liquid through cracks on trunk which turn brown later is observed. Cavity may develop beneath the affected area. Scraping the affected area and then application of Bordeux mixture or copper oxychloride or mancozeb is recommended.

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