Monthly Archives: May 2012

Palm oil production needs to be sustainable

Palm oil production is big business in Malaysia. However, this labour intensive industry is offering very low wages at $150 per month; this is attracting migrant workers from poorer neighbouring countries including Bangladesh and Indonesia.

The Malaysian government have introduced a new minimum wage scheme, which will take a monthly income working in a palm oil plant to $300 a month, but this is still under the poverty line. The palm oil plantations are worried that targets will not be met, unless more work visas are created to meet the demand of palm oil production.  More jobs need completion by the people of Malaysia.

Creating sustainable palm oil is important and it is vital to focus on creating fair trade jobs – where the worker receives a reasonable rate of pay for the work done.  Palm oil is a commodity used in many products including biscuits, breads, cakes, crisps, frozen food and bio-fuel.

There are so many issues surrounding the production of sustainable farming including environment, legal and issues.  Not only underpaid workers, but also orangutans are victims to this multi-billion dollar industry.

The demand for palm oil is growing – and fast. The palm oil plant is increasingly being used in biodiesel, to feed this ever-growing demand, rainforests and peatlands throughout South East Asia are destroying the eco-system.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) established in 2001, to prevent unethical actions including environmental and social problems. The GreenPalm programme awards a certificate for each tonne of palm oil, which has been sustainable produced. These GreenPalm certificates work in a similar process as carbon credits.

Sustainable Palm Oil Is a Growing Concern

Palm oil is a commodity that is highly in demand. Since the eve of the second millennium, governments have been prioritising on developing a greener planet.  Car manufacturers are focused on building clearer and more efficient cars.

Countries that produce palm oil including: Malaysia, Colombia and Indonesia are under pressure to supply the demand. Sustainability is a growing concern. There is a huge threat to wildlife and rain forests in tropical regions. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) established in 2003,  tackle the problems of deforestation and the growing regions of peat lands. As a result, the number of orangutans have declined and now classed as endangered species.

The responsibility of the RSPO is to enforce sustainable palm oil regulations. Oil palms are highly efficient oil producers each fruit containing 50% of oil. The palm oil tree produces more oil than any other oil plant per hectare.

Palm oil can be a highly sustainable resource if planned properly. As the global demand increases, it is important to keep the rainforests safe and natural habitats preserved.

In 2011, the Cameroon palm oil project has evidence that threatens the eco-system of west Central Africa.  Doctors and environmental experts wrote to National Geographic stating their concern of this project and that numerous laws and RSPO rules are in violation.

Some of the violations include the proposed 70,000 hectare palm oil plantation is unsuitable for most wildlife species. The project will require large dense area of high-canopy forest to be removed in order to plant oil palms, resulting in additional carbon dioxide, resulting to an incline of deforestation and the decline of certain species.

It is imperative, that regulations are in place to protect local communities and the current ecosystem.  Sustainability is an important aspect of any farming infrastructure, the developing quality regulations and practices, sustainable farming is highly achievable.