Sunday, June 1, 2008

African oil palm

Posted at  1:16 AM  |  in  Oil Palm


The African oil palm, Elaeis guineensis Jacq., is placed in the Arecaceae family along with coconut and date palms.


There are three naturally occurring forms of the oil palm fruit, termed dura, tenera, and pisifera. Most cultivars are the tenera form which produces fruit with higher oil content.

The African oil palm is native to tropical Africa, from Sierra Leone in the west through the Democratic Republic of Congo in the east. It was domesticated in its native range, probably in Nigeria, and moved throughout tropical Africa by humans who practiced shifting agriculture at least 5000 years ago. European explorers discovered the palm in the late 1400's, and distributed it throughout the world during the slave trade period. In the early 1800s, the slave trade ended but British began trading with west Africans in ivory, lumber, and palm oil. The oil palm was introduced to the Americas hundreds of years ago, where it became naturalized and associated with slave plantations, but did not become and industry of its own until the 1960s. The first plantations were established on Sumatra in 1911, and in 1917 in Malaysia. Oil palm plantations were established in tropical America and west Africa about this time, and in 2003, palm oil production equaled that of soybean, which had been the number one oil crop for many years.

World (2004 FAO) - 153,578,600 MT or 338 billion pounds. This is about twice the level of production of any other fruit crop, making oil palm by far the world's number one fruit crop. Oil palm is produced in 42 countries worldwide on about 27 million acres. Average yields are 10,000 lbs/acre, and per acre yield of oil from African oil palm is more than 4-fold that of any other oil crop, which has contributed to the vast expansion of the industry over the last few decades.

Top 10 Countries
(% of world production)
1. Malaysia (44%)
2. Indonesia (36%)
3. Nigeria (6%)
4. Thailand (3%)
5. Colombia (2%)
6. Cote d'Ivoire (1%)
7. Ecuador (1%)
8. Cameroon (1%)
9. Congo (1%)
10. Ghana (1%)

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