In 1869, a rust disease Hemileia vastatrix wiped out the coffee plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Subsequently Indonesia passed legislation banning coffee imports including sacs used for packing coffee from Sri Lanka and it was the first plant quarantine law in the Asian region.
In Sri Lanka, British scientists of the Department of Agriculture at Peradeniya commenced plant quarantine activities in 1880s. This was necessitated because; Sri Lanka became a centre for identification of pests affecting crop plants. Regional countries have sent here the samples for scientific studies. After the establishment of Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) at Gannoruwa, Peradeniya, all the plant quarantine activities were carried out jointly in the divisions of Entomology and Plant pathology of the same Institute. In early 1980s with the help of Australian government, a separate unit for Plant quarantine activities was established in Gannoruwa within the premises of CARI. A Chief Plant Quarantine officer was appointed assigning all the responsibilities of plant quarantine in Sri Lanka. In 1994, the present National Plant Quarantine Service complex was established at Katunayake with the financial assistance of the Japanese Government.