Mindanao Daily Mirror
by Peter Lavina
Oil palm is an environment-friendly oil crop
Last week, the harvest of oil palm fresh fruit bunch (FFB) at our Farm No. 1 in Rosario, Agusan del Sur was 8,370 kilos or more than 8 tons. If processed, this would yield about 1.6 tons of crude palm oil (CPO) at the industry average of 20% oil yield from the oil palm FFB.
CPO is the raw material to make cooking oil, lard or margarine and other products. It is widely used in many food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
Although I am now officially on-leave from our oil palm company to volunteer fulltime to help Mayor Rody Duterte promote Federalism, I still receive all these reports from our field technicians in the several small farms where we planted oil palm in Agusan del Sur. Our Farm No. 1 is a cluster of farm lots totaling 36.8 hectares which we developed from June-August 2012 or nearly 3 years ago. It was idle for about 15 years after its old owners stop tending to it as a rubber farm.
We also manage small farms nearby, one involved 3 lots with an area of 8.1 hectares, another with 7 lots consisting of 13.2 hectares. With our good agricultural practices (GAP), we have been successful in cultivating oil palm, experimenting with different oil palm varieties and taking advantage of the good rainfall in Agusan del Sur.
According to our Farm Manager in Rosario, Albert Gilbero, our next harvest would be on June 15. I am happy that in these initial farms we are now achieving the industry standard of harvesting FFBs at least two times a month. We cannot expand though because of the problem of supply of oil palm planting materials, which are all imported.
Our FFBs are delivered to the nearby Filipinas Palm Oil milling facilities for processing. The FFBs need to be processed immediately or at least within 24-48 hours to avoid oil shrinkage and increase in the fatty acid content of the oil.
The prices on FFB and CPO are based on the prevailing market price quoted in the world’s leading palm oil trading system in Kuala Lumpur. Depending on its oil content, the price of FFBs range from near P4 per kilo to P7 per kilo.
Oil palm is the world’s leading and most efficient agricultural oil crop. It occupies the least land compared with soya, corn, sunflower, rapeseed, coconut, etc. and yet yields the largest vegetable oil. Oil palm needs only 1 hectare to produce the same amount of oil with 10-11 hectares of soya, or 4-5 hectares of coconut. In the Philippines there is over 3 million hectares planted to coconut and only about 72,000 hectares to oil palm. Globally, soy bean plantations occupy 2.14 % of the total developed agricultural lands, oil palm only 0.23%.
Our neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia have repeatedly acknowledged how their oil palm planting strategy helped them licked poverty and raised the living standards of their people. You can name any of the top corporations in these two countries and almost all of them are involved in the palm oil industry or struck gold in this golden crop. The trouble with our government is not copying this successful program. We instead copied the World Bank model of conditional cash transfer (CCT), a dole out system that has caused us hundreds of billions of Pesos and yet poverty in our country remains the same or has even worsened. Sucks!
Oil palm originated as forest trees in western Africa. It’s trees, towering as tall as coconuts, make a canopy comparable to rainforests which produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide compared with soybeans, sunflower and corn, for example, which are all perennial crops and no taller than a man.
I was once stung by a bee in our farm. Every time I visit there I always see plenty of different bird species flying around palm oil trees. There was also a time I was like a kid trying to run after a dragon fly. You know what these all mean? Our oil palm farms have no toxic chemicals or pesticides where bees, birds, dragonflies, butterflies freely abound.
Oil palm, therefore, is the best agricultural crop that is environment-friendly. It uses less land yet produces more oil, and it’s trees, planted in small farms or cluster of farms or in Malaysia or Indonesia or other countries in plantations, provide a forest-cover like canopy that fights climate change.
But how come it is being vilified by environmentalists? Well look who is funding these so-called western environmentalist NGOs. They are lobby money groups from the soya, sunflower and corn industries of Europe and the Americas. These western countries have raped far more forests, destroyed far more animal habitat, emit far more greenhouse gases and yet attack Asians who are planting oil palm.These same western environmental NGOs slandered the coconut industry during the 1980s as cancer-causing vegetable oil.
Even more disgusting perhaps is that there are Filipinos who are poisoned and believed the toxic crap that these western environmental NGOs peddle.
He he he go figure!
Incidentally, those interested in the oil palm industry may join us at the next National Palm Oil Congress and Exhibits at the KCC Mall in General Santos City on August 19-21.
And please tune in from 5-6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays at 105.9 Balita FM where every now and then we can discuss this and other issues concerning the palm oil industry.