A Magical Crop–Call me: OIL PALM


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They say I am “Red-crop “some: the “Green crop”, others: the “numerous rooted crop”. All been said, it is factual that I do produce “red oil”,have a lot more green leaves than other crops and I am amongst the strongest rooted crops in the World (resistant to storms and droughts) and remains the main source of “red fruits” from which most of the World’s vegetable oils are derived.  I am been used as a symbol of wealth by some cultures and tribes of the World. Now it is a pleasure to announce my presence hereas OIL PALM.

My origin:I am a native of Africa and indigenous to Western Africa – Riverine region of tropical rain forests. My local names are numerous depending on the country you find me and I am aware Wikipedia calls me “Elaeisguineensis.”… do not fret; I still welcome any name you choose to call me. The earliest archaeological evidence of my use is an earthenware jar containing residues of palm oil in a 5,000-year-old Egyptian tomb.

My location: I grow in Africa from Angola to Senegal and in total of 43 countries in the World.  You probably wonder why I do well in most areas, well that’s because I can adapt to a range of soil types and tolerate lowpH withnot very high pH (greaterthan 7.5). My soil must be free draining and my economic potential is greatest in my growing belt, a region that encompasses 100 north and south of the Equator.

My botany: I belong to the Family of Palmae, subfamily Cocoidae. Monoecious (both male and female flowers produced on the same plant) and my leaf production rate are between 1 to 3 leaves per month – no wonder am amongst crops with numerous leaves in the World.

My Harvests: are my fruits which contain a fleshy part (mesocarp) and a nut. My flesh are used for red oil and nuts for black oil; not the black from the oil wells-Palm kernel Oil; the African knows much about this.

My Life cycle: I am perennial and when I grow in the wilds I have a life span of up to 200 years but my commercial nature have an economic life span of 20 to 30 years. Nursery 10 to 12 months, Immature phase 24 to 30 months, Production: Steep ascent phase Year 3 to 10, Plateau phase Year 10 to 15, Declining phase Older than 15 years.

My Products:My two main are Crude Palm Oil (CPO) and Crude Kernel Oil (CKO). My Palm oil processing can be broken down into four stages. First, palm fruits (FFBs) from agricultural activities. Second, crude palm oil (CPO) and crude kernel oil (CKO) are extracted from the FFB fruitlets. Third, CPO and CKO are further processed using a refining, bleaching, and deodorising (RBD) technique. Last, the RBD products are manufactured into high-value products such as specialty fats, oleochemicals, and biodiesel. I have not forgotten that my leaves are used for the African brooms, my branches makes most of the African baskets, and don’t be marveled- the last bottles of alcohol you took could have some content from me, my trunk produces that as well; the Africans will testify.

My Efficiency: I am the most efficient oil seed crop in the World and here is what the World has to say: There are 10 major oilseeds in the World, and amongst them; One hectare of my plantation is able to produce up to ten times more oil than these oilseed crops thus in 2012, I accounted for 5.5% of global land use for cultivation, but produced 32.0% of global oils and fats output. Thanks to Indonesia, Malaysia andotherslikeThailand, Columbia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Ecuador-watch Nigeria, they are my biggest promoter in Africa.

My values:

Poverty alleviation:  My palm oil industry is one of the key economic drivers of the agricultural sector in developing countries including Nigeria, Malaysia and Indonesia. In Malaysia, my industry provides direct employment for about 570,000 people. (Source: MPOC 2011) and also offers a long-term and stable source of income for my smallholders.

Employment creation: Due to low mechanization possibilities, large oil palm plantations are labor intensive and generate up to 30 times more employment per unitarea than other large-scale farming, including rubber, sorghum, and soybeans. The World Bank rates me as able to provide more jobs per hectare than other large scale farming, and my jobs are year-round rather than seasonal.

Environmental Conservation: My plantations are as effective as rain forests in reducing carbon dioxide, a critical contributor to global warming. My plantations ensures better climatic conditions due to my numerous leaves which absorbs more carbon dioxide, and in addition provide more employment than forest, do not be stunned I have more leaves than others-what do you expect?

Not genetically modified organism (GMO): MyPalm nuts are notgenetically modified like other oil crops such as soybean. This feature makes me easily tradable to regions that have banned the import of GMOs, providing a natural marketing niche for my oil exporting countries.

Nutrition:

  • My product (Palm oil)provides the right amounts of fat in a balanced diet necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Palm oil have the richest known natural vitamin E content of natural tocotrienols that helps lower bad cholesterol levels and protects the brain against diseases.
  • Red palm oil, or mildly refined palm oil, has seventeen times more Vitamin Athan carrots that stimulates the immune system and controls the growth and functions of body tissues.
  • Palm oil is cholesterol-free and trans-fat free.

Top selling:

  • My product Palm oil is one of the 17 major vegetable oils and fats produced globally.
  • Among the 17 oils and fats, palm oil is the highest consumed oil. In 2012 it reached three billion people in 150 countries, with consumption at 52.1 million tonnes.
  • Palm oil is competitively priced against soybean, rapeseed and sunflower oil in the world‘s market for oils and fats.

My Demand:

Outlook:

  • Worldwide demand for vegetable oil is expected to increase by 36% between 2007—2017, with biofuels accounting for one-third of the increase (World Bank, 2011). Demand for palm oil for edible use is still rising due to population growth, increased per capita consumption, and movement of the developed world away from saturated animal fats.
  • About 80% of current world palm oil production is consumed in the form of food. An estimate of additional 6.3 million hectares of me would have to be planted by 2020, says World Bank (2012).
  • Global consumption for palm oil was 52.1 million tons in 2012 and global market demand was 74.01 million tons in 2014.

My Economics:

  • My industry in Indonesia generates over $12.4 billion in foreign exchange and employs about 2 million Indonesians.
  • In Malaysia, I add 5-6 % contribution to her GDP
  • Cote d’Ivoire earns 60% of her GDP from Agriculture and I am their 3rd export agricultural commodity.

My Challenge in AFRICA- my Home:

  • 30% of agricultural lands for oil palm are located in Africa;meanwhile less than 10% of total Palm oil production comes from Africa. Smallholder farmers account for 70–90% of African oil palm growers, and they mostly use unimproved farming and processing methods, with little financial assistance to farmers.
  • Ghana is the first country the British established oil palm plantations in the 19th century. The same seeds and production techniques were then used to establish palm oil estates in another British colony-Malaysia. Despite the common root, Malaysia is now the world’s second largest palm oil producer and exporter after Indonesia, while Ghana ranks 15th in production quantity.
  • More than 80% of palm oil farms in Nigeria are controlled by smallholder farmers, of which 40% exist in a wild or semi-wild state. Nigeria’s once-thriving palm oil industry is one of the most failed economic opportunities in Africa. Only 4% of total FFB are produced in Nigeria because yields, average only 2.5 metric tons per hectare, while Malaysia and Indonesia reached average yields of 19 metric tons per hectare in 2009 (IPPA, 2010).
  • Palm oil production in 2012/2013 was insufficient to meet my domestic consumption of 6.4 mil tonnes resulting in a production deficit of 4.2 mil tones in Africa, with deficits of over 450,000 metric tons in West Africa.

My Aspirations in AFRICA:

  • “More than 200 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are jobless in Africa, and the figure is even higher when you speak of underemployment” yet “Agriculture remains the sector with the largest potential to help create wealth and lift millions out of poverty if it is pursued vigorously.” Studies show that investing in agriculture could help lift 85 million people out of extreme poverty by 2024, provide jobs, and boost economy-I hope to help in this situation.
  • I aspire to gain the attention from all stakeholders: policy makers, entrepreneurs, investors, engineers etc, as I am and could be an economy transformer of my continent- AFRICA, as I have done to ASIA my second home.

ABABIO KWAME

Authored: Ababio Kwame: Young farmer, (Green Afro-Palms (GAP)): a young agro company in Ghana- West Africa causing facelift to Sub-Saharan Agricultural framework, implementing best technology for oil palm cultivation and its processing. GAP is presenting Oil palm as an alternative commodity for vegetating Africa’s environment, generating jobs and incomes for sustainable livelihoods.See: www.facebook.com/greenafropalms , greenafropalms@gmail.com. Green Afro-Palms… keep the fields green…!


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