Replacing Palm Oil Not Solution, Alternatives Worsen Condition

Jakarta – The palm oil has been continually accused of causing deforestation in Indonesia. It has been slapped with discriminatory actions at the global markets, especially in the European market, where it has been put under a program of gradual phasing out from the biodiesel industry.

Due to the environmental accusation, some people have been pursuing efforts to replace the palm oil, which has been scientifically proven as the most efficient and the most versatile vegetable oil compared to other vegetable oils. But a question then arises: Are the alternatives better than palm oil or they will just worsen the condition and cause new damages to the environment?

Such intriguing question is thoroughly and scientifically answered by a number of researches and studies, which include the one conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Based on the FAO study (2013), producing one ton of soybean oil and rapeseed needs much more inputs such as fertilizers (nitrogen and phosphate), pesticide/ herbicide, land and energy if compared to the needed inputs in producing one ton of palm oil.

Data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) shows that to produce one ton of palm oil, growers only need around 0.26 hectare of land. But the soybean oil, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil need respectively 2 hectares, 1,25 hectares and 1.43 hectares of land to produce one ton of oil.

Along with the use of much more inputs, the production of soybean oil, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil will also produce much more outputs, such as pollution or residues discharged into soil, water, and greenhouse gases to the air compared to the production of palm oil.

The studies have scientifically proven that the production of palm oil is more efficient and ecofriendly than the production of other vegetable oils.

Based on the report of Palm Oil Indonesia, “the study became the basis to conduct a simulation of replacing the oil palm with soybean in the oil palm plantation areas.  The result of the simulation shows that additional residues of production inputs to the water or soil due to the replacement of oil palm with the soybean is the nitrogen at 81 million kg, phosphate at 63 million kg, and pesticide at 67.8 million kg.”

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