Transforming palm pil production for a greener future

Palm oil, a versatile product found in a myriad of everyday items from chocolate to shampoo, has come under scrutiny due to the environmental damage associated with its production. However, sustainable palm oil offers a solution by aiming to reduce environmental harm and ensure fair working conditions. Sustainable palm oil production involves farming practices that prioritise ecosystem health, protect wildlife habitats, and support local communities both socially and economically.

The concept of sustainable palm oil is underpinned by specific guidelines and certifications. Organisations like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certify palm oil that meets strict criteria addressing deforestation, peatland development, and workers’ rights. Certified producers must adhere to environmentally responsible and socially just practices to be recognised as sustainable.

Palm oil is an incredibly efficient crop, yielding more oil per hectare than other vegetable oils. However, conventional production often leads to significant deforestation, threatening biodiversity and contributing to climate change. Sustainable palm oil aims to mitigate these impacts through responsible management practices, allowing for ecological balance and thriving wildlife in cultivation areas. It promotes better land use planning and forest conservation, balancing industry demand with environmental and community needs.

Unsustainable palm oil farming has severe environmental and social repercussions. Large-scale deforestation for palm plantations destroys habitats for endangered species and releases significant carbon dioxide, exacerbating global warming. Socially, unsustainable practices often involve poor working conditions, low wages, and exploitation of workers, along with land rights conflicts involving indigenous communities.

Sustainable palm oil practices are demonstrating that it is possible to harvest this commodity without causing deforestation or worker exploitation. Sustainable plantations use existing agricultural land or degraded areas and employ agroforestry practices that support biodiversity and soil health. This approach not only preserves habitats but also enhances resilience against diseases and pests.

Economically, sustainable palm oil supports rural livelihoods by creating fair-wage jobs and providing training in sustainable agriculture. Farmers who adopt sustainable practices benefit from better market access and higher premiums for certified products, encouraging more to join the movement towards sustainability.

Consumers can support sustainable palm oil by looking for certifications like RSPO or GreenPalm logos on product labels. These certifications indicate adherence to environmental and social standards. However, consumers need to be cautious of vague terms like “eco-friendly” that lack certification backing. Informed choices and supporting transparent brands committed to sustainability can drive positive industry change.

Several brands are leading the charge by committing to 100% sustainable palm oil in their products. These brands are transforming their supply chains and setting industry examples. By choosing these products, consumers support a responsible approach to palm oil production. Transparent reporting by these brands helps consumers make informed decisions, contributing to broader industry sustainability efforts.

Dekel Agri-Vision PLC (LON:DKL) aspires to become a leading agro-industrial company in West Africa, one that creates value for shareholders whilst at all times placing the interests of the local communities and environment in which it operates in at the heart of its operations.

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