Palm oil causes friction in Indonesian Forests

If the Middle East is the treasure grove for fuel oils, the South East is for the palm oil. Indonesia and Malaysia, which are the major players in the production and export of palm oil, in their process of oiling economy with the tons of palm oil produced every year have been destroying major chunks of forest area to grow the money minting palm trees. This, according to a report by Greenpeace (2012), has been contributing significantly to the Green house gas emissions, thus fueling the much feared Global Warming.

Forests in Sumatra destroyed for palm oil cultivationPicture source :

Forests in Sumatra destroyed for palm oil cultivation
Picture source :

Check out the infogram which uses the data of the the increasing quantity of palm oil import to India, which is met by the increasing palm oil cultivation in Indonesia, the resulting depletion of forest cover in Indonesia, and the increasing CO2 emissions.
When the forests are cleared and the peatland drained to establish oil palm plantations, huge amounts of Green house gases are released. The graph accurately brings out the increasing trend of land dedicated to palm oil cultivation between the years 2000 and 2006 from 4 million to 6 million hectares , which is directly related to the decreasing percentage of forest cover in Indonesia from 54 to 47. The decrease in forest cover unfortunately is a major cause for the co2 emissions which recorded an increase from 1.2 to 1.5 metric tons per capita during that particular period, thus establishing a causative effect between increasing palm oil cultivation and global warming.

Most of India’s palm oil is imported from Indonesia. The graph shows the relation between the increasing amount of palm oil imported over the years and a corresponding increase in the production of palm oil in Indonesia to meet the demands of palm oil across the world.

The major Indian Industry players such as Ruchi Soya, ITC, Britannia, Godrej and Parle, and few global corporations based in India, like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), PepsiCo and Cargill must own up the responsibility to make sure that the palm oil imported is not derived by chopping down the Indonesian rain forests. Few global firms, like Nestle, have already boycotted the use of palm oil, produced at the stake of Indonesian forests. However, till date, no Indian firm has taken any steps to deal with the forest destruction for palm oil, according to the Greenpeace report, 2012.

Though the palm oil industry contributes to huge employment opportunities for the indigenous community and also contributes to the economy of Indonesia, efforts should be taken to make sure that any agricultural expansion is done in the deforested lands which are low in carbon values and biodiversity, which would help keep a check on the emission of greenhouse gases.

Data Sources: Greenpeace report June 2012, Oil world Annual 2001, Business Information focus 2010, World Bank report published in 2005,


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