Responsibly cultivated palm oil is more environmentally beneficial than any other oil crop. Malaysia is a world model for sustainable palm oil production. It all began in earnest when Malaysia’s government encouraged cultivation of this healthy oil to reduce the country’s economic dependence on other less reliable or efficient crops, such as rubber, cocoa and coconut.
The truth about palm oil:
- Only the fruit is harvested. Each oil palm tree has a long, productive lifespan of up to 25 years. Workers pick bunches of fresh fruit year-round. The fruit is then crushed to produce this nutritious oil. Every part of the tree is eventually used. Nothing goes to waste on a Malaysian oil palm plantation.
- More than 260 species of plants and animals reside in or next to Malaysian palm oil plantations. Barn owls and snakes serve as eco-friendly pest control measures, keeping rodents away from the growing trees. These animals co-exist with other animals who call the plantations home.
- Malaysian palm oil production is helping to eradicate poverty. In the 1960s, Malaysia’s government introduced land settlement schemes to help its landless farmers and smallholders improve their quality of life. Today, these associations help farmers secure their land and receive a fair income as well as support the greater community by building roads and schools.
- Most new oil palm plantations were formerly used for less productive, less sustainable crops. Fields formerly used for rubber tree plantations are now lush with more efficient oil palms.
- Malaysian oil palms produce more oil while utilizing less land than any other oil crop. Each hectare of Malaysian oil palm produces approximately 3.74 tons of oil each year. Each hectare of soybeans produces just 0.37 tons of oil, while rapeseed (canola) produces only 0.67 tons.
- Malaysia has designated only 20 percent of its landmass to agriculture. About two-thirds of that is used for the country’s 600 million oil palm trees. Rainforests cover 60 percent of Malaysia’s land. In all, 80 percent of Malaysia has green tree cover, making this country one of the largest carbon sinks in the world. Carbon sinks diminish carbon dioxide, cool and oxygenate the air, and help fight global warming.