Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 26  2014 March p.  1-24

The Future of Oil Palm as a Major Global Crop: Opportunities and Challenges

Author(s): Denis J Murphy*

In recent years, the oil palm sec­tor has wit­nessed a period of his­tor­i­cally high prices with buoy­ant global demand and high lev­els of pro­duc­tion dri­ven largely by eco­nomic devel­op­ment in major Asian coun­tries such as India and China. How­ever, the oil palm sec­tor is also con­fronted by many impor­tant chal­lenges that require atten­tion. Such chal­lenges include frag­men­ta­tion of the indus­try, stag­nat­ing yields, and an image prob­lem that is largely due to the con­ver­sion of trop­i­cal rain­for­est and peat­lands in a few regions in South-east Asia. The bio­log­i­cal and man­age­r­ial tools to sur­mount these chal­lenges already exist but need more focussed appli­ca­tion and polit­i­cal sup­port. Poten­tially ground­break­ing bio­log­i­cal tools include the new mol­e­c­u­lar breed­ing tech­nolo­gies, such as those made pos­si­ble by the recent pub­li­ca­tion of the oil palm genome sequence (Singh et al., 2013a, b). Two key R&D tar­gets for the indus­try are:

• higher oil yield in fruits and trees; and
• higher meso­carp oleic acid com­po­si­tion – prefer­ably over 65% w/w.

The more focussed use of new and tra­di­tional tech­nolo­gies can also help to con­front pest and dis­ease prob­lems, to redesign of crop archi­tec­ture, and to facil­i­tate yield and har­vest­ing effi­ciency. In the medi­umterm future, we can look for­ward to a con­sid­er­able geo­graph­i­cal exten­sion of oil palm cul­ti­va­tion in a broad zone across the trop­ics of Africa, Asia and the Amer­i­cas. If these and other mea­sures can be taken, increased palm oil out­put could more than meet the high­est pro­jec­tions for future veg­etable oil require­ments while min­imis­ing adverse envi­ron­men­tal con­se­quences. Improved oil palm vari­eties could also con­sid­er­ably increase the global mar­ket share for this highly pro­duc­tive trop­i­cal crop at the expense of some of the less effi­cient tem­per­ate oilseed crops.

Keywords: , , , ,

Author Information
* University of South Wales, CF37 4AT, United Kingdom.

Cited By

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Source: Scopus
Last updated: 22 May 2017

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