A Nigerian palm oil expert, John Omale, has said that he disagrees with concerns been spread by the European Union and other global warming advocates that palm oil cultivation was contributing to global deforestation.
While he contends that trees get cut down and bush cleared in order to build plantations, Omale said mature plantations form natural forests that give safe habitat to wild life.
The EU economic bloc has said that it would phase out the use of palm oil as a feedstock for its biodiesel, while global warming campaigners have lobbied for palm oil usage in processed food and other various products to be halted.
On Wednesday, Malaysia’s biggest supermarket chain Mydin, began taking out products labelled ‘palm oil free.’
Omale said, “When you grow oil palm after a long period of time, you will see that the interaction in the eco system starts to come back again.
“When you clear out land for a plantation, it becomes a forest again after a very long period of time.”
The palm oil industry is valued at $60bn, 85 per cent of which goes to Malaysia and Indonesia.
Both governments have begun lobbying against attacks on palm oil by global warming advocates.
Omale said the stance taken by the EU is disturbing to Nigeria especially going by its potential employment opportunity for the country’s unemployed youth.
He added, “The call for reduction in palm oil consumption is not encouraging for me. With an increase in population, an encouragement for us to go into agriculture, undergraduates going here and there, no work to do, palm oil plantations will increase. It will create jobs for people.
“People will also make money from the value chain, they will be able to sell to others and make money too.
The palm kernel cake can also be used to formulate feed for livestock. If you reduce consumption, it will lead to deviant acts in the society.”