Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 17 Dec  2005 Dec p.  124-135

Best-developed practices and sustainable development of the oil palm industry

Author(s): CHAN Kok Weng

The long-term economic viability of any crop production system is dependent on implementation of its best-developed practices (BDPs). Improperly managed,any resource can pollute the soil,water and air.The growing challenge for agriculture is to find ways to increase crop yields and improve nutrient use efficiency while stabilizing nutrients,replacing those removed in the harvested crop,recycling those in the crop residues and ultimately retaining them in the soil organic matter.Nutrient balance management is the most significant BDP that has evolved to be site-specific and cost-effective in palm oil production.The practice of nutrient balance management is,at the same time,accompanied by protection of the soil,water and air resources.This would result in not only protection from surface runoff and leaching but also in the reduction of gaseous emissions.

The management policies on BDPs now require plantations,firstly,to look at protection of the physical environment such as the air,soil and water.Secondly,to look at the impact of chemical environment such as pesticide usage,nutrient balance and soil organic matter on chemical pesticides in palm oil;and,thirdly,at maintaining the biological environment such as biodiversity,high yielding planting materials and reduced weeds,pests and diseases.There are also a host of other objectives imposed on the palm oil industry that arise from the globalization of its trade.They include challenges such as overall ecosystem protection,food security and sustainability with the aim of slowing down climate change by stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations.This implies using less energy inputs on resources like pesticides and fertilizers.

From this review of the important future challenges,there is no reason why the oil palm production system,using the latest BDPs,cannot sustain its high yield while protecting the environment.As per Article 2 in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),the triple requirements of ecosystem protection (ecological),food security (social)and sustainable economic development (economic) can be met.There is now a need for the oil palm industry to demonstrate this inherent strength of high productivity without undue imposition on the limited world resources.

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Author Information
* Malaysian Palm Oil Board, P. O. Box 10620, 50720 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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