Almost all of us are oblivious. We may not be able to see it, but Palm Oil has become a common ingredient in our everyday lives. It is found in roughly half the packaged products sold in all grocery stores, including favorite snack foods like ice cream, cookies, chocolate products, instant noodles, doughnuts and potato chips. In fact, it is likely to be present in some form in nearly every room of your home.
Recently, Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) had organized its 2nd interactive session with around 35-40 food bloggers at Taj Vivanta, MG Road, Bengaluru, where all our questions about palm oil – origin, production, and pros & cons were answered.
The informative session started off with Bhavana Shah’s talk, who is the country representative for India and Srilanka, MPOC which was followed by Dr. Meena Mehta’s speech, the Vice President of Indian Dietic Association.
History & Origin: The Palm oil originated from West Africa, where evidence pf its use as a staple food crop dates as far back as 5,000 years. Also, there’s an evidence in Egyptian tombs of people being buried with casks of Palm oil. Clearly, with its origins from West Africa and evidence of consumption in Egypt, it can be considered as one of the earliest traded commodities.
The first commercial scale plantation in Malaysia was founded in 1917 and established in Tennamaran Estate in Selangor. The cultivation of oil palm increased at a fast pace in 1960’s under the government’s agricultural diversification program, which was introduced to reduce the country’s economic dependence on rubber and tin. The oil palm plantations in Malaysia are largely based on the estate management system and smallholder scheme.
Statistics: Today, 4.49 million hectares of land in Malaysia is under oil palm cultivation; producing 17.73 million tonnes of palm oil and 2.13 tonnes of palm kernel oil. Malaysia is one the largest producers and exporters of palm oil in the world, accounting for 11% of the world’s oils & fats production and 27% of the export trade of oils & fats. The industry provides employment to more than half a million people and livelihood to an estimated one million people.
Crude palm oil and the crude palm kernel oil are the two main types of oils produced.
Palm oil, Palm Olein, Palm Stearin, Palm Kernel oil, Palm Kernel olein and Palm Kernel Stearin are the various types produced during the conventional milling process. Each type of oil has its own applications in different fields.
Palm oil itself isn’t the enemy — it’s where and how it’s grown that we need to change. As far as edible oils go, it is actually quite good. The oil palm tree, which is the source of palm oil, is highly productive. It yields 4–10 times more oil per hectare than other oilseed crops.
How healthy is Palm Oil?
It is rich in natural chemical compounds important for health and nutrition. Among others, it is a natural source of Carotenoids & Vitamin-E as well as supplying fatty acids and other important fat-soluble micronutrients. It also supplies an abundance of calories that gives us much-needed energy for our daily life.
Impacts on the environment:
1. Deforestation, draining and planting palm on peatlands, land disputes with rural communities — all of these have been major consequences of the global palm oil boom. Many problems stem from the fact that too much oil palm has been planted at the expense of tropical forest.
2. And the loss of forests doesn’t just impact local communities. It is one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.
Solution: Palm oil and deforestation do not have to go hand in hand. There is massive efforts underway to break this cycle and put the palm oil sector on a path to sustainability. Indonesia and other palm oil-producing countries can produce more without cutting down additional forests.
The event was just not about creating awareness, but also about some fun.
Post session discussions with Dr. Meena and fellow bloggers.
Thank you, Bhavana Shah and Dr. Meena Mehta for giving us insights about Palm oil. Three cheers to Priyanka and her team Six Sigma Events for organizing such an interactive session. Looking forward to more such events 🙂
To know more about Palm oil, click on the link:
Sources: MPOC & Google.