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 Agriculture
 
Palm oil can alleviate poverty, foster growth: report
The Hindu Business Line, India Monday, August 23, 2010


Environmentalists have been attacking palm oil for long on the claim that it damages biodiversity and creates animal-human conflict. But, a new report says that palm oil fights poverts and abets economic growth. Palm oil, the report said, can play in important role in African nations such as Nigeria and Ghana.The Western-world inspired campaign against palm oil has become muted, writes G. Chandrashekhar in The Hindu Business Line.

At a time when palm oil is under attack from environmentalists – both genuine and self-appointed – on grounds of damaging biodiversity and creating animal-human conflict, comes a report that outlines the positive role of palm oil in fighting poverty and fostering economic growth.

The important role palm oil can play in African nations such as Nigeria and Ghana has been brought out in a study by Nigeria-based think-tank Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA), in response to the World Bank Group Palm Oil stakeholder consultation.

LACK OF INVESTMENT

Although many African nations are naturally well endowed with tremendous biodiversity and varied agro-climatic conditions, lack of investment has characterised the continent's agriculture and agribusiness sector.

As the third largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia and Malaysia, Nigeria provides a clear example of how palm oil can be an effective means of alleviating poverty due to its high yield, low production costs and nutritional value.

IPPA's report not only highlights the importance for World Bank to stay focussed on its original mission of poverty reduction through economic development, but also argues that imposing burdensome environmental and social guidelines on investment in the production and supply chain of palm oil will unduly shift the core focus of the mission of the World Bank and IFC.

TRADE-OFF

Simply put, IPPA's recommendation to the World Bank is that between poverty alleviation and environmental protection, the former must receive primacy.

For developing countries, there is no greater challenge than fighting poverty through economic growth and development.

MUTED WEST

Interestingly, of late, the Western-world inspired campaign against palm oil has become muted.

In the last two years, the Malaysian industry lobby has, of course, been active in responding to allegations and communicating its positive role in promoting sustainable practices.

This article was published in the The Hindu Business Line on Monday, August 23, 2010. Please read the original article here.
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