India’s Solvent Extractors Assn. to support Lanka’s oil palm industry | Sunday Observer

India’s Solvent Extractors Assn. to support Lanka’s oil palm industry

19 June, 2022

In the backdrop of the support being provided by the Government of India to Sri Lanka, the Asian Palm Oil Alliance (APOA) led by India’s Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) - the premier association of the vegetable oil industry and trade in India - has written to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and senior ministers and officials offering support for the oil palm industry to achieve its fullest potential for the benefit of Sri Lanka’s ailing economy. 

The key points it highlights are:

Palm oil can emerge as a strategic commodity for Sri Lanka. It is in 50% of all consumer products and plays a central role in a slew of industrial applications. There is no realistic alternative for palm oil for most of the applications and countries.

Over the past decade in Sri Lanka, edible oil consumption has been growing at a CAGR of 3%. At present, local consumption is around 264,000 MT, of which only about 20% is produced locally. Expanding coconut from the present 40,000 MT to meet the shortfall is neither economically viable nor technically feasible.

SEA, along with partners such as Solidaridad and the Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research (IIOPR), is actively promoting the adoption of palm oil by Indian smallholders under National Mission on Edible Oil - Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) as a model for self-reliance on edible oils.

We are happy to share more information on our experiences with NMEO-OP in India to support Sri Lanka to be self-reliant on vegetable oil production as well. 

We sincerely hope the Government will review its decision to ban oil palm cultivation and allow increased production of oil palm in the country.

SEA and its partner Solidaridad are willing to support our partner Sri Lanka Palm Oil Industry Association (POIA) and other stakeholders, through the following means:

1. Encourage and facilitate collaboration between Sri Lankan and Indian research institutes to develop basic, strategic and applied research on genetic resource management, crop improvement, and production technologies to enhance oil palm productivity.

2. Willing to share our experiences and assist the Sri Lankan Government in designing a palm oil mission with a vision of producing 250,000 MT of palm oil in the country to achieve self-sufficiency in vegetable oils and reduce the outflow of foreign exchange.

3. Offer support to Sri Lanka to devise its own sustainability framework, which is inclusive and considers the concerns of the local people.

Palm oil cultivation is banned in Sri Lanka though the ban on imports were reversed citing negative social and environmental impacts.  Oil palm cultivation covers approximately 12,000 ha, less than 1% of the total agricultural land in the country.