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The palm tree: A cropscape of monoculture and devouring carbon sinks


  • Edakunny, Preeti


India accounts for 17 per cent of world palm oil consumption. Palm oil was initially considered a potential nutrition and environment solution that would replace fossil fuel and trans-fats in the nutrition chain. That promise of replacing fossil fuels and trans-fats is far from met; palm tree monoculture has led to devastation of rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia, which together account for 85 of global palm oil production. Symmetrical rows of palm trees have replaced once-dense irreplaceable habitats of trees and plants. The initial deforestation was induced by European innovation and consumption. India and China have now outstripped European buyers as the main buyers of palm oil. The global cropscape of the palm is reviewed in this paper in the Indian context. Policy appears to encourage palm oil imports in the face of India’s dire agricultural landscape, with negative returns for farmers, a growing nutritionally bereft food chain and exponential deforestation of tropical forests in Indonesia and Malaysia. The paper explores the inherently economically and the socially destructive substitution of ethnically produced and consumed seed oils such as mustard, sesame and coconut. Small farm holdings comprise nearly 85 per cent of India’s total cultivated area. This paper studies the global supply chain of the palm seed oil that potentially has multi-pronged externalities of destruction of farm income in the importing nation, disruption of nutrition needs and augmenting global emissions through deforestation .

Suggested Citation

  • Edakunny, Preeti, 2019. "The palm tree: A cropscape of monoculture and devouring carbon sinks," SocArXiv k5gsn, Center for Open Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:osf:socarx:k5gsn
    DOI: 10.31219/

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