Sri Lanka beautiful Tropical Island in southern Asia is gifted with large number flora. Kitul (Caryota urens) is a palm categorized under the useful trees in the island and it is being used to produce a large number of commercial products.
The Kitul palm was called Toddy Palm during the colonial rule in the island. Toddy (asap), which is produced from the bud is a popular drink among the working class. The English name of the palm is fishtail tree owing to its fishtail like a leaf. The Tamil name for the tree is Koondalpanai. Kitul is mostly found in the wet zone of the island.
Historical evidence suggests that kings like Dutugemunu, Kawantissa and Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe had a great liking for food made of Kitul. King Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe from Kandy had been a usual drinker of alcoholic drink made of processed today.
Today Kitul is a popular small industry (cottage industry) and it is cultivated 18 districts in the island, Gampaha, Kalutara and Kandy are the three districts best known for this palm. More than three million Kitiul palms to be found in these three districts alone and 90,000 of them are being used to produce toddy, treacle and jaggery. It is estimated that 50,000 families are depending on the Kitul industry while 30,000 people are directly employed in the industry.
There are various programs introduced to improve the industry by the traditional industries and enterprise development board. Safety measures, medical benefits and training are such programs funded by the government. Today there are value-added products being introduced apart from the traditional treacle and jaggery to the market such as jujubes and chocolate.
The development plan for the industry
Kitul Cultivation program will be launched by the Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise development in Sri Lanka. The program will include 120 divisional secretariats in the island.
The minister Douglas Devananda who was speaking to the media revealed about the program.