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Palm Oil: a Sustainable Development Goal commodity

Posted: May 16, 2017 2 minute read Lim Shu Ling 0 Likes

Did you know that palm oil contributes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Here’s how palm oil helps promote seven SDG goals:

Palm oil has played a huge role in reducing rural poverty in top producing countries, Malaysia and Indonesia. The opening of palm oil plantations in rural and remote areas has helped lift the incomes of populations there. About 40 percent of the plantation area in Indonesia is owned by some two million small farmers and a report by World Growth estimated that these farmers earn up to seven times more than subsistence farmers.


In addition to reducing poverty and ensuring that rural communities have income to buy better food, palm oil itself is a key food ingredient. It is the most versatile and efficient vegetable oil in the world, yielding more per hectare than any other edible vegetable oil crop. Palm oil is a critical food ingredient for populations around the world especially in China and India. And as the global population continues to grow, palm oil will maintain its key role in feeding the world.


Palm oil brings crucial development into rural areas. Prior to the arrival of palm oil estates, villagers may have had to travel miles to their nearest clinic. With palm oil estates, infrastructure and facilities such as clinics are set up giving local communities easier access to healthcare. Combined with higher earnings from palm oil which allows them to get better food and nutrition, they enjoy greater well-being.


Aside from clinics, schools are also set up when palm oil estates are opened. This helps guarantee that children attend school for at least the mandatory number of years determined by the government, and often they receive help from plantation companies to further their education.


It’s estimated that in Indonesia alone, the palm oil industry creates some 16 million direct and indirect jobs and contributes 19billion USD in annual export revenue. Aside from the farming and harvesting of palm oil, the industry has also created jobs in palm oil processing, R&D, trading and logistics, amongst others.


By boosting socio-economic development, palm oil has helped to reduce inequalities between urban and rural populations. It has provided rural populations better access to healthcare and education, helping to further ensure that they and their children have a better quality of life and standard of living. It also helps lift the GDP of developing countries and reduces the inequalities between nations.


Despite widespread perceptions that palm oil development continues to drive most destruction of tropical forests, the palm oil industry has actually acknowledged its legacy and responded to the challenge of halting deforestation. Reports show it is the most active amongst major agricultural sectors in promoting forest conservation and sustainable production. Palm oil’s high yield per hectare also means that existing agricultural land can be used more efficiently; and palm oil plantations store and sequester carbon, helping to mitigate climate change.


Read more about how GAR is aligned to the SDGs.

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