OIL PALM CULTIVATION IN COASTAL AREAS OF SOUTHERN PAKISTAN

ENABLING LOCAL EDIBLE OIL PRODUCTION IN NEAR FUTURE

DR. S.M.ALAM, DR. A.H.SHAIKH, M.A.KHAN
Feb 11 - 17, 2008

The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is an important plant for obtaining palm oil for human consumption and manufacturing other materials. The oil palm grows under the tropical condition that is hot and humid. The crop needs lot of sun shine and uniform rainfall condition for cultivation of this crop at 10-15 degrees, north and south of the equator. It can grow to 50 feet in high rainfall areas and is more decorative and suitable for a garden when young. In avenues, a spacing of 25 feet is sufficient. It is a native plant of coastal belt of West Africa. Now, its cultivation has been widely spread in many parts of the world. Malaysia is the main country in the world, where oil palm trees are extensively grown. This country is also a main exporter of palm oil in the world. The oil palm cultivation in Pakistan will not only beautify the barren coastal area and minimize the environmental pollution, but also reduce considerable amount of foreign exchange spent on importing edible oil.

OIL PALM CULTIVATION AND COASTAL AREAS

There are good prospects for the cultivation of oil palm in the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan, where climatic conditions are absolutely favorable for the cultivation of this plant. Now the chances of bringing millions of acres land, along the coastal area from Karachi (Sindh) lying barren desert and unused are bright and suitable for cultivation of oil palm seedlings. The area is handicapped by lack of water and subject to extreme heat. The area is least influenced by summer monsoons. The annual rainfall may be as low as 25 mm to 50 mm. People living on the sides of long coastal areas from Sindh to Gwadar would be given incentives to sow the crop on a large scale. The area from Karachi to Gwadar covering a distance of about 750 kilometers lies between 62oF and 68oF longitude and 24oN and 26oN latitude.

The mean maximum temperature of the hottest month ranges from 32oC to 42oC. Humidity is high and there is steady fast sea breeze in the summer, owing to which, the temperature is slightly moderate near the coast. It has been reported that these areas are suitable for the cultivation of oil palm. If the cultivation of oil palm becomes successful in these areas then the country will be in a position to produce edible oil locally and this will reduce the huge import bill of this commodity. The country spends more than 800 million dollars on the import of edible oil annually. Information has been gathered that more than 8000 acres of land on the coastal areas of Sindh and nearly same size of land along the coastal areas of Balochistan would be brought under oil palm cultivation in near future.

ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF OIL PALM

Pakistan is also importing seedlings of this plant from oil palm producing countries. The Pakistan Oilseed Development Board (PODB) is very active in the cultivation of oil palm tree in the country. The oil palm seedling plant starts to bear fruit within 3-4 years after planting in the field and has an economic life span of about 25 years. Oil palm is the most productive oil crop with an annual yield of about 5 tons of crude palm oil/ha. It has been reported that after soybean, the palm oil is the second major oil produced in the world. Currently, the production of palm oil over the world is nearly 22 m. tons. The major palm oil producing countries in the world are: Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Colombia. Malaysia has a unique position among the palm oil producing countries. Malaysia produces almost 50% of the world palm oil and exports nearly 80% of the total world trade of palm and palm kernel oils. This figure has been estimated for the year 2004. Malaysia has the highest yield per hectare of palm and palm kernel oils and possesses most modern oil palm nurseries infrastructure such as oil mills, refineries, storage tanks and other safety measures infrastructures. Indonesia is the second highest producing country with 36%. The total palm oil consumption in the world in the year 2003 was 27.3 million tons and the projected yield for the year 2005 has been estimated as 30.9 m tons. And per capita consumption of oil for the year 2005 has been recorded as (kg /yr): US 50, Europe 47. Japan 21. China 17, Bangladesh 6.7, India 12, Pakistan 11, and world average 18.7. Palm oil supplies about 22% of the global demand for oils and fats. And 49% of the global export trade in oils and fats depends on palm oil. World oils and fats production for the year 2004 stands at 117,577x10 3 tons with total consumption of 118,042x103 tons annually.

NUTRITIOUS VALUE

Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the Elaeis guineanis palm. Palm oil has been used in food production for over 5,000 years. It is a vegetable oil not an animal or dairy product, and therefore does not contain cholesterol. This oil contains much less saturated fat than coconut oil. Today it is consumed worldwide as cooking oil, in margarines and shortening, and as an ingredient in fat blends and a vast array of food products. Palm oil should be classified as both a saturated fat and an unsaturated fat. The saturated fatty acids are made up 44% palmatic acid and 5% stearic acid. The unsaturated fatty acids consist of 39% oleic acid 10% linoleic acid. A number of pre-1990 human feeding studies reported that palm oil diets showed a reduction of blood cholesterol values ranging from 7% to 38%. The vitamin E, particularly the tocotrienols present in palm oil can suppress the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. As a consequence tocotrienols lower blood cholesterol. Tocotrienols of the palm oil exhibit anti-cancer properties. Palm oil prevents the formation of thrombus in the blood vessels. Vitamin E in palm oil inhibits human platelets from sticking to each other. Other supporting evidence showed that a palm oil diet either increases the production of a hormone that prevents blood- clotting or decreases the formation of a blood-clotting hormone. Crude palm oil is one of the richest natural sources of carotenoids with concentration of 500-700 ppm. The beneficial effects of carotenes on cancer and other chronic diseases have been demonstrated in population studies and human clinical trials. No other vegetable oil contains carotenoid in such significant quantities. Analysis shows that alpha and beta carotenoid constitutes approximately 90% of the total carotenoid content. Palm oil lowers the total blood cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol and increases the good HDL- cholesterol and Apo A-1 levels. Palm oil has been shown to be stable and versatile even without hydrogenation.

Palm oil is used in various food products such as cooking oil, vanaspati, margarines, shortenings, bakery and confectionery, fats, ice cream and chocolate fats. The palm oil is also used in the manufacture of soaps, candles, detergents, lubricants, fuel, caked residue, cosmetics, and other personal care products. Palm oil like other vegetable oils contains almost no cholesterol. It is a rich source of vitamin E and B carotene. It contains about 40 per cent oleic aid, 10 per cent linoleic acid, about 44 per cent palmatic acid and 5 per cent stearic acid. It has good stability agent oxidation.

CHRONIC SHORTAGE IN AGRARIAN COUNTRY

Pakistan is one of the biggest consumers of palm oil besides China, India, Japan, Europe and the Middle East countries. Since the evolution of edible oil industry in the country palm oil has played the role of lifeblood for this sector. Despite the fact that Pakistan is an agricultural country, the irony is that we have chronic shortage. Taste preference, climate, eating habits, logistics, economy and all the other parameters make palm oil the most preferential choice for Pakistan. Over the last three decades, the consumption pattern shows that on average almost half of the edible oil consumed in the country comprises of palm oil. Banaspati has not only given cost and logistics advantages to local manufactures but has also helped in overall growth of edible oil industry in Pakistan. Being largely used for edible purposes, palm byproducts have also been used extensively for soap making in the country. In the year the country imported oils and fats as {000 tons): palm oil 1086, soybean 164, sunflower 17, rapeseed 26, tallow 86 and Total 1383 tons.

Local production oilseeds have not shown significant changes over the last five years. The major oilseeds produced in the country are cottonseed, rapeseed and sunflower. Linseed, groundnut and sesame area Butterfat and cottonseed oil are two major oils being produced locally. These two oils constitutes about 75% of the domestic oils output. Cottonseed and sunflower are mostly grown in the Punjab and the Sindh provinces while rapeseed is grown in the other provinces as well. The domestic production of oilseeds for the year 2006 was as (000 tons): cottonseed 414, rapeseed/mustard 228, sesamum 35, sunflower 348, and soybean 421. There are reportedly more than 150 units in the country engaged in the manufacture of vegetable ghee and cooking oil.

ADVICES FOR GROWTH

There is an urgent need to promote the cultivation of oil palm in the coastal areas of the country. The following points should be taken into consideration: i) Establishment of oil palm of research station in Karachi; ii) Oil palm seedlings should be provided free of cost to growers to make its cultivation a success; iii) Arrangement should be made for raising of seedlings of oil palm; iv) Establishments of marketing channels for the palm oil growers so that when farmers start planting oil palm along the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan they should not face crop disposal problem; v) Irrigation facility through sweet water should be provided for raising the seedlings; vi) Training of required manpower involved in oil palm nurseries and plantation may be arranged in any oil palm producing country; vii) There should be establishment of mills for extraction of palm oil.