The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) is a perennial tree crop that is widely cultivated in more than 86 tropical countries of the world with a total production of 54 billion nuts per year. The palm produces nuts throughout the year when climatic conditions are favorable and is one of the most important food security crops. The palm is also regarded as the tree of life owing to its wide range of over 120 products for domestic and international markets.
It was introduced to Kenya in the 16th Century by the Portuguese. Its cultivation spread rapidly and it became an industrial crop of considerable economic importance during the 20th Century.
Its production and marketing were handled by the Arab traders and white settlers on big plantations until the 19th century when small‐scale farmers started growing it. Today the coconut is mainly a small‐scale farmer’s crop. Over 80% of coastal farm households derive their livelihood either directly or indirectly from the coconut tree.