Industry official asks LGUs to expand oil palm planting

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014


A TOP official of the Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc. (PPDCI) is urging local government units (LGU) to invest in the expansion of the palm oil industry saying that this can help in the economic development of the country.

Dr. Pablito Pamplona, secretary of the PPDCI, said in a forum held yesterday that expanding and prioritizing oil palm as the main crop in farm lands will help reduce the long-standing problem of the country on poverty and improve the agricultural output and export of oil palm to other countries.

“Government support is badly needed to overcome the large vegetable oil import, low agricultural activity, high rate of poverty and unemployment in the country,” he said.

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He said the Philippines still has a vast area of idle land, especially in Southern Visayas and Mindanao that are highly suitable and can be converted to oil palm plantations.

The challenge, however, is that oil palm production is not a priority for Philippine promotion because of problems in rice, corn and coconut.

“We are still a minor producer of this commodity. Although we have a million hectares of land suitable for oil palm plantation, we only devote 170,000 hectares, relatively small compared to other neighboring countries like Indonesia which as 10 million hectares, Malaysia at five million hectares and Thailand at one million hectares,” said Pamplona.

Potential

He said the Philippines can be one of the world’s top oil palm producer, similar to its Asean neighbors.

“One of PPDCI’s advocacies is to help the country overcome vegetable oil shortage by producing oil palm at the same time position coconut oil into a higher value product in the global market,” said Pamplona.

The first oil palm industry roadmap, spearheaded by the Philippine Coconut Authority, seeks to develop 56,641.71 hectares of land with bearing and non-bearing oil palms and about one million hectares of land suitable for oil palm plantation expansion by 2023.

The 2014-2023 roadmap targets 300,000 farmer beneficiaries.

The oil palm tree, known in Asia as “miracle palm tree,” has a yield potential of 60 ton FFB (fresh fruit bunches) per harvest per year. Malaysia has the best current yield at 35-40 tons per harvest per year while the Philippines only yields 18-25 tons per harvest per year.

Oil palm has an increasing demand in food usage and biofuels. Farmers also stand to earn more with oil palm, compared to other products.

“This is an easy crop to grow. With using two hectares of land for oil palm plantation farmers, for example, will get the income equivalent to salaries of professionals like teachers, police or a technician in agriculture as harvest time is at 10-15 days, unlike growing rice which has a harvest time of four months,” Pamplona said.

To ensure success of oil palm farming, Pamplona said LGU support is badly needed for technology dissemination and constructing of farm to milling roads as well as application of technology on good agricultural practices.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 28, 2014.

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