We may already be one month into 2020, but come end January across the world, over a billion Chinese will be celebrating the Lunar New Year – the Year of the Rat.
For the uninitiated, the Chinese zodiac is a cycle of 12 animals – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.
The Chinese have a practice of foretelling whether the year would be a good one for you, based on your zodiac animal. For example, I’m a ‘Tiger’, so predictions are that it is going to be a great year for me in terms of wealth, unfortunately not so much in the area of health.
So is this going to be a good year for the palm oil industry? We certainly hope so.
Palm oil prices are picking up. While this is a positive sign for businesses, it more importantly also means better incomes for farmers and smallholders. And there is a ripple effect to this. Higher incomes mean being able to buy resources, like fertiliser, needed for their farms and plantations, and not resort to ‘cheaper’ means of improving soil fertility such as by burning.
This is important because we anticipate a challenging year in terms of climate. The El Nino effect is expected to strengthen this year bringing drier than normal conditions. Farmers and agribusiness like ours need to ensure production practices are tip-top, and do not contribute further to possibility of fires.
The Year of the Rat is also being described as the Super Year for Climate and Nature. Protection of biodiversity continues to be high on our agenda through:
- Conservation of 72,000 hectares of forest
- Protection-production partnerships with villagers, increasing forest area conserved
- Protecting endangered wildlife like orangutans
- Maintaining diverse insect populations in plantations
- Integrated Pest Management; natural solutions to control pests
We hope this is the year people realise responsible producers are not the enemy, and instead get behind sustainably produced palm oil in positive ways.
It being the Year of the Rat, and rats being a common sight on oil palm plantations, we thought it might be interesting to ask: do you know which other animals in the Chinese zodiac can be found around plantations? Play our interactive game to find out!