Why Cultivate Oil Palms?

14. In traditional farming, nobody cultivates oil palms.

People simply pick the clusters of fruit from the oil palms that grow in the forest.

But these oil palms produce little. The oil is extracted by traditional methods, and a lot of oil is left in the pulp and the kernel.

But nowadays oil palms are grown on modern plantations. These contain selected oil palms with big yields. The clusters of fruit are sold to mills which extract all the oil from the pulp and the kernels.

These oil palm plantations bring in money for the grower who sells the fruit, for the worker who works in the mills, and the Governmnet which can sell the oil to foreign countries.

The growers can also earn money by raising beef cattle. Beef cattle can be fed with green fodder from the crop grown in the palm groves.

The grower can also feed his cattle with palm-kernel oil cake, that is, what is left over after extraction of the palm kernel oil. Palm-kernel oil cake is a protein-rich food.

Where to Cultivate Oil Palm

Oil palms are cultivated in the regions where they grow well and where there are oil mills. To repay the grower the oil palm needs a region:

  1. Where it is hot all year round

The oil palm grows well where it is hot all the year round: between 25 and 28 degrees C. If the temperature drops, the oil palm produces fewer leaves and is more often attacked by diseases. It, therefore, yields less.
A hot temperature enables the oil palm to make many leaves and to produce many clusters of fruit.

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2. A lot of Sunshine

Where there is a lot of sunshine, there will be strong photosynthesis, provided the oil palm is in the soil which gives it water and mineral salts.
The leaves grow large, the fruit ripens well, and there is more oil in the fruits.

3. Plentiful Rain

If it does not rain much, or if it does not rain for several months, the leaves do not grow well. If there are few new leaves, there are few flowers and few clusters of fruit. There is less yield.

4. Where the oil is flat, deep, permeable and rich.

The oil palm needs a flat soil. If the soil is not flat, transport is difficult and costs a lot. Erosion is severe; the water carries away the earth.

The oil palm needs deep soil. The roots of the oil palm cannot develop if they meet a hard layer. They cannot take up water and mineral salts that are deep down. If the oil palm does not have enough water, yields are low.

The oil palm needs a permeable soil. The oil palm does not grow well if water remains around its roots for too long.

The oil palm needs a rich soil. In order to produce many large clusters of fruit, the oil palm needs a lot of mineral salts. If the soil is poor, mineral salts can be added by applying fertilizers.

5. Where there are Oil Mills.

With traditional methods, a lot of oil is left in the pulp and the kernels. The machines of the oil mills extract all the oil contained in the pulp and thekernels.

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Selected oil palms produce many clusters of fruit. To get all the oil out of these clusters yourself, you would have to spend a lot of time. Before planting selected oil palms, make sure you can sell the fruit clusters to a mill.

6. Where business companies or extension services can give the grower advice.

It takes much money and work to make an oil palm plantation.
The grower must use modern methods in order to pay for his expenses and earn money. He will need advice on: