AND OIL PALM
Coastal-line of Sindh & Balochistan offer great
Jan-07- 13, 2002
Despite having a strong agriculture base with the
largest irrigation network in the world, Pakistan has to spend a large
chunk of its hard-earned foreign exchange on the import of edible oil
According to latest estimate, country's total
edible oil requirement is around 1.9 million tons to 2 million tons
out of that 71 per cent is imported while remaining 29 per cent
requirement is met through local resources.
Out of the total imports, the lion's shares goes to
palm oil imports mainly from Malaysia while other imports of edible
oil include soybean, canola and sunflower. The money spent on imports
varies from Rs33 billion to Rs40 billion a year pertaining to the
level of international prices.
Although the governments in Pakistan have made
claims in the past to develop a green belt alongside 700km long
coastal belt spread over Sindh and Balcohistan shores yet practically
speaking the claims remain merely statements for the public
Kaukab Iqbal, Chairman, Pakistan Coconut and Oil
Palm Society said that forestation level in Pakistan is already at the
lowest level, which comes hardly 5 per cent of our total forestation
requirement in accordance to the total area of land in Pakistan.
Due to lack of forestation our environmental
conditions especially in the urban areas are declining alarmingly. In
fact we have criminally neglected the available natural resources and
in a sense failed to fulfil our national obligations.
Nature is kind enough to Pakistan. The soil and
climatic conditions of coastal areas in Sindh and Balochistan offer
great opportunities for speedy growth of Coconut and oil palm trees.
Harvesting of coconut and oil palm trees alongside
the coastal areas not only make the country self-sufficient in edible
oil but overcome the problem of declining trend in forestation sector
Since harvesting of coconut trees requires a little
amount of investment as compared to other costly crop, this can help
the government in accomplishment of its poverty alleviation programme,
which is on top of its priority lists, Kaukab said.
He strongly recommended that groups of the willing
farmers of coconut and oil palm should be sent to Malaysia and Sri
Lanka on government expenses to provide them on job training regarding
plantation, harvesting, oil extraction and other commercial use of the
Kaukab Iqbal observed with a sense of concern that
apart from known and established edible oil marketing companies which
are selling edible oil in accordance with the norms of health and
hygiene, a number of unscrupulous marketing companies are also selling
UN-refined palm oil which is highly dangerous to the human health.
He said that this unhygienic edible oil easily
available in the market and attracts the poor consumers due to low
price is more hazardous than the bullet of a klashnikov. One of the
major reasons for eruption of cardiac diseases in an epidemic form is
the consumption of sub-standard edible at an alarming level, he
Engr. Farida Essa, General Secretary of the society
suggested that a separate stretch of coastal belt be earmarked and
develop the same as coconut and oil palm estate.
This is mainly intended for small farmers and
identification of whom will be the joint responsibility of the society
and concerned government department. She was of the view that in order
to attract the land-less farmers, incentives are offered to them in
the shape of land and seeds at an affordable price. They should also
be provided road approach, drinking water facility, low cost
sanitation, primary education, basic health facilities, oil extraction
mill and market to the nearest township to enable them to sell the
fruit, seed, oil and inter-cropped vegetables. This facilities if
provided in the proposed estates there is not reason why the projects
would not be result oriented, functional and economically viable.
Farida also said that as an integral part of
government policy, the society suggested to carryout corporate farming
for oil palm in coastal area in interior Sindh depending on the
availability of government agriculture and forestry land feasible for
the investors. Pakistan edible oil producers importing oil seeds and
palm oil can also be persuaded to cultivate the oil palm within the
country and providing favourable environment can also attract foreign
Pakistan Coconut and Palm Oil Society strongly
desires to set up a research and development institute which is an
important requirement for assisting farmers in the following manner to
enable them to attain the objective of oil palm and coconut
cultivation in Pakistan and to develop small industries related to the
product of farm to reduce import and stop draining foreign exchange to
a great extent.
This R&D facility should be formed with the
•To provide a permanent forum for consultation.
•To encourage the farmers to set up oil palm and coconut farm in a
•To promote much needed field of research and development in the
•To direct ways and means for getting finance for small farmers.
•To set up an information service and database
•To support existing information and other data centers and
encourage the extension of their products.
•To arrange workshops, seminars & conferences.
•To impart training to researchers and technicians.
•To select disease resistant and healthy seeds and saplings.
•To select agro-ecologically viable varieties of coconut and oil
•To advise proper use of various types and quantities of
•To develop model nurseries.
•To provide soil testing facilities and develop hybrid varieties for
their mass scale plantation in different areas of Sindh and
Balochistan, and to act as a bridge between farmers and the
According to Dr. Haji Khan Keerio, coconut is a
perennial crop and its economic life is generally over 60 years in
case of commercially popular varieties. Coconut trees display great
variability in nut yields. Detailed studies in Sri Lanka have revealed
that a healthy coconut tree yields on average about 60 nuts per tree
The coconut requires warm climate with temperatures
of 22°C or higher. Lower temperatures do not cause damage but check
growth and development. Coconut requires rainfall between 1300 and
2300 mm per annum. Coconut can be grown in wide range of soils. The
best are deep loamy soils, rich in plant nutrients. Water logged and
too much saline soils need to be reclaimed before carrying out
plantation. The soils must be well drained. The coastal climate of
Sindh and Balochistan provinces is favourable in the vicinity of 50
miles. The bearing improves near the coast.
Dr. Keerio said that efforts were initiated in 1956
when 300 coconut seeds were imported from Sri Lanka and Goa through
FAO. These nuts were planted at Korangi farm Karachi and seedlings
were distributed among the farmers of Karachi area. During 1979,
scheme on variety trial was approved and four varieties were planted
over an area of 5 acres at Korangi, Karachi. During 1980, a
consignment of 2000 seed nuts of dwarf variety was imported from
Indonesia and distributed between Sindh and Balochistan. During 1984,
25000 seed nuts were imported from Sri Lanka by Pakistan Agriculture
Research Center (PARC) and distributed to Sindh 10,000, Balochistan
10,000. PARC raised about 4000 seedlings in Karachi and supplied to 35
progressive growers of Karachi and Thatta districts.
Sindh Forest Department also created coconut
division with its headquarters at Thatta in 1982 and the scheme
"coconut plantation in Sindh" was implemented during
1982-88. Under the scheme, coconut plantation of improved varieties
was established on government land at Gharo over an area of 95 acres.
Good quality seed of tall and hybrid varieties was imported from Sri
Lanka and 1,15,977 seedlings were provided to the farmers of the area
on subsidized rates. A replacement project was started in 1988-89,
where plantation has been increased to 225 acres.
Pakistan International Airlines also established
coconut nursery and distributed seedlings to the farmers of Sindh and
Despite all these efforts, a noticeable emergence
of coconut culture is still beyond the sight, which means the
programme needs more concerted efforts to produce desirable results.
According to Afsar Saeed Khan, vice chairman of the
society, coconut based farming systems can have several components
such as intercropping or multi-storey or mixed cropping livestock
raising etc. underplanting of young coconut plants for edible pith,
nursery farm to produce planting materials and aquatic farming. This
is possible because the morphology and architecture of the coconut
palm allow adequate sunlight to penetrate the palms for other plants
to grow. Cultivation practices associated with the production of these
understory components also favour the coconut.
In South Asia, the benefits of coconut-based
farming systems include efficient resource conversation, lower
production cost as a result of sharing of labour and fertilizer
inputs, higher coconut yields and enhanced farmers incomes. In a study
conducted at the regional Maharashtra State of India six perennial
spice crops were planted in separate blocks of 0.2 ha each under
coconut. The nutmeg block generated the highest net profit of Rs53951
per ha. Followed by the cinnamon block with Rs37,128 per ha. The
profit from the coconut block alone was only Rs12346.
This experiment proves that coconut farms can also
be used for raising other crops to harvest double profit with minimum
use of land.
Coconut is grown in nearly 90 countries spread
along the tropical belt. Total area under coconut is estimated at 11.1
million hectares and around 93 per cent, was found in the Asian and
Pacific region. Indonesia and the Philippines, the world's two biggest
producers, have about 3.7 million hectares and 3.1 million hectares,
respectively, while India comes third with 0.632 million hectares.
Papua New Guineas leads in the pacific region with 260,000 hectares.
Tanzania recorded the largest extent in Africa and Mexico in Latin
America at 281,955 hectares and about 150,000 hectares respectively,
accounting for about one-third of the total area under coconut in that
region. The world's total production of coconut was estimated at about
51.3 billion nuts or 9.8 million tons expressed in copra equivalent.
In the last twenty years, there was a continuing marginal increase in
both hectare and production of coconuts. While world area under
coconut increased by nearly 5 per cent per annum, remained low and in
some countries, it even showed a declining trend.
The coconut producing countries continue to produce
it in view of the importance of the coconut as a social crop. These
countries have realized the potential coconut holds in economic
development and poverty alleviation particularly, among the rural
population. For most of these countries, coconut is still the backbone
of their economy and it could be the base on which their rural
economies are based. Continued research and development activities in
the producing countries have contributed largely to the improvement in
the income of the coconut farmers.
The coconut is a very versatile tree. It yields
multi-products, perhaps more products of use to mankind than any other
tree in the world. Even the root as one might wonder, has also its
uses. In some countries, the root is used as toothbrush and some say
has healthy effect on the gum. In Indonesia, they said that uses of
coconut could be equal to the number of days in a year.
Diversification enhances exports, attracts
additional revenues but also eradicates importation of coconut
products or substitutes.
Traditionally and the emerging products from
coconuts number to about 70 items that are produced and exported by
coconut producing countries.
Philippines lists about 40 non-traditional coconut
products ranging from coconut oil-based fatty alcohol to handicrafts
while India and Sri Lanka ship out a wide range of fiber products.
There are numerous opportunities within the coconut
sector in which small-scale producers can add value to coconut through
product diversification, technology improvements and enhanced market
access. Production of coconut sugar is one of them. It was observed
that the income of coconut farmers is five times higher if they tap
the tree and process the sap into sugar rather than depend only on its
fruit. Traditionally, it a cottage industry in the Philippines and has
been a source of brisk income to augment the measly wage of coconut
farmers. Charcoal making, handicrafts are some of the large number of
traditional products that could be derived from coconut fruits and
trees. It is a "no-waste tree" as even its waste products
provide ample opportunity to augment farmers' income. Through R&D
the once considered wastes have been put into use and even turned up
to be an income generating industry. Choir dusts the major by-product
of choir production and considered a pollutant, is now being sought to
conserve the environment. It is now being exported and is becoming a
significant foreign exchange earner in Sri Lanka. The midribs, twigs,
spathe, leaves are also now being utilized in the manufacture of
handicrafts — another non-traditional export product from
Malaysia and other countries currently known for
producing palm oil, in fact brought the oil palm tree from West
Africa, which is the native place of the oil palm trees. This tree has
a long history of food use with archaeological evidence going back
5000 years, said Iftikhar Ahmed. However, improved varieties have been
planted widely in the Wet Tropica in Africa, Latin America and South
The oil palm crop grows under the tropical
condition that is hot and humid. The crop needs lot of sunshine and
rain uniformly spread through the year. The ideal growing conditions
exist 10 degree north and South of the Equator.
The oil palm starts to bear fruit within 2-3 years
after plantation in the field and has an economic life span of over 25
years. Its continuous reduction throughout the year has a major
advantage over other annual oil crops. It permits efficient
utilization of labour and equipment for harvesting and oil extraction.
Fruit is processed within hours of harvesting. So the crop storage
facilities are not requirement.
Oil palm is the most productive oil crop with an
annual yield of 3.5 to 5 tons of crude palm oil per hectare i.e. about
ten times as productive as other oil crops.
Palm oil is the second major oil produced in the
world after soybean oil. The world's production of palm oil in the
year 2000 stood at 21.5 million tons. The share of the palm oil in the
world's total production of oils and fats was 21 per cent. For the
same period the share of palm oil in the world's trade of oils and
fats stood at 35 per cent. In this way, palm oil was the largest oil
trade in the world markets. The major producers of palm oil in the
world are Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Colombia.
Similarly, the world's production of palm kernel oil was 2.7 million
tons. It is the second major Laurie oil produced and consumed after
Due to the unique physical and chemical properties,
palm oil is used in numerous food products such as vanaspati, cooking
oil, margarine, shortenings, bakery and confectionery fats, similarly,
palm kernel oil can be used in ice cream and chocolate fats.
For non-food products, these two oils are used in
the manufacture of chemicals, soaps, detergents, cosmetics and other
personal care products. In general, about 90 per cent of palm oil are
used for edible purposes and balance 10 per cent goes to the inedible
The present government has launched a drive to
eradicate absolute poverty from the society. In this regard, various
schemes are being implemented and financial institutions like SMEDA
have been formed to provide finances for small business.
The coconut and oil palm society suggests that
utilization of government land by distributing them among the poor and
with small amount of funds and know-how can produce multi-faceted
results. According to an study, even a small coconut holding of 0.4 ha
can sustain the livelihood of four to five family members when it is
devoted to intensive integrated farming. Hence the coconut-based
farming systems have to be promoted in all coconut growing areas to
ensure resource conservation, sustainable levels of coconut production
and most importantly enhance on-farm income and employment.
Dr. Hafeez Shaikh, the finance minister for Sindh,
known for his dynamic views for speedy resource development in every
sphere of life has agreed with the view of the Pakistan coconut and
oil palm society and has constituted a task force in this regard.
Apart from economic and commercial gains, the
development of a green belt alongside the beautiful shores of Sindh
and Balochistan are of vital importance especially for environmental
protection deteriorating at an alarming pace due to ever increasing
industrial pollution in Karachi. This would be a sight for the souring