Palm Oil able to Saving Deforestation
Vegetable oil is one of the needs of the world community for foodstuffs (cooking oil, shortening, butter, the bread industry), the cosmetics industry and toiletries (soap, detergents, cosmetic ingredients) and for energy (biodiesel, bioethanol, electricity generation). According to Oil World data, every year the world community needs around 230 million tons of vegetable oil with an additional 6 million tons of vegetable oil per year.
Unfortunately, there are no other ingredients that can replace these vegetable oils, so they must be produced through oil palm plantations, soybean plantations, rapeseed plantations and sunflower plantations. To develop these vegetable oil plantations, requires a fairly large land area. In the expansion of these plantations inevitably there must be another conversion of agricultural land or forest conversion. Conversion of other agricultural lands to vegetable oil plantations is very limited in each country because it will interfere with wider food security. So the choice was forced to convert part of the forest into vegetable oil plantations.
Here, a problem arises. The expansion of vegetable oil plantations which undermine forests (deforestation) has been highlighted by some of the world community, especially from environmental activists. Of course we agree that global deforestation must be controlled to preserve biodiversity and the global environment. We also agree not to repeat the “sins” of Europe and North America that did total deforestation so that native forests and sub-tropical biodiversity are now only memories. On the other hand, the world community also needs an increase in food including vegetable oil for welfare. Therefore a middle ground must be taken. Collectively the world community must be wiser to make choices for the supply of vegetable oil with minimum deforestation. Is there any?
The first alternative, the world community chose the supply of vegetable oil in the expansion of rapeseed oil and sunflower like those in Europe. With oil productivity per hectare of the two vegetable oil plants around 0.6 tons of oil per hectare, to fulfill the 6 million tons of vegetable oil the world needs each year, the world needs an additional 10 million hectares of land. This means that deforestation must occur again at 10 million hectares every year.
The second alternative, the world community chose the supply of vegetable oil with the expansion of soybean plantations such as in Brazil, Argentina and the United States. With a productivity of 0.5 tons of oil per hectare of soybean plantations, then to meet the additional world vegetable oil of 6 million tons per year, the world community needs additional land to expand soybean fields to 12 million hectares annually. This means additional deforestation covering 12 million hectares.
The third alternative, the world community chooses the supply of vegetable oil from palm oil. Palm oil productivity (CPO, PKO) currently reached 6 tons of oil per hectare of oil palm plantations. So to fulfill the additional consumption of 6 million tons of vegetable oil per year requires an additional world oil palm area of 1 million hectares.
In line with the development of superior palm seeds by PPKS, CPO productivity can reach 10 tons of CPO/ha. This level of productivity cannot be achieved by other vegetable oils. If we have to increase the area again by being forced to sacrifice forests (deforestation), then the expansion of oil palm plantations will only be around 600 thousand hectares per year.
The implementation of the Presidential Instruction about moratorium on land for opening oil palm plantations in Indonesia is a “brake” for plantation company or farmers to expand plantation area. But, this also provides an incentive for researchers to develop high productivity palm oil seeds. This means that to increase the volume of CPO can be achieved without having to increase the area of deforestation.
Now, it’s up to which world community to choose. Choosing rapeseed oil and sunflower, soybean oil or palm oil? If truly the world communities, environmental NGOs, academics, politicians are committed to controlling world deforestation, then the choice is vegetable oil with minimum deforestation namely palm oil.
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