Target: Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia
Goal: Improve agricultural practices for palm oil production to both stabilize the economy and protect the environment.
The South American country of Colombia is the world’s fastest growing and fifth largest producer of palm oil, which is used for cooking and bio-diesel fuel. At least 20 million hectares of Colombia’s land is ineffectively used for agriculture, and this land could accommodate many new oil palm plantations. We need to encourage Colombia’s government to use sustainable farming methods so the environment is not harmed during production.
According to John Garcia-Ulloa’s assessment in “Lowering environmental costs of oil-palm expansion in Colombia“, “Instead of clearing natural forests, it may be able to convert degraded pastures into palm oil plantations, opening up access to the EU and other markets where consumers are demanding sustainably produced oil for cooking, cosmetics and ‘green energy’.”
Palm oil cultivation is nothing new. It started in the 1970s to supply the domestic food market and has long been tied to a history of illegal harvesting of coca for the drug trade. Thanks to tax breaks and an increase in demand for biodiesel fuel, the industry expanded in the 2000s. Despite claims that palm producers have caused internal displacement of Colombian residents, the Center for International Forestry Research believes that palm oil plays less of a role in population displacement than originally thought.
According to expert Garcia-Ulloa, “Colombia may have an advantage over the Indonesian case when it comes to lowering impacts from the expansion of oil-palm. A vast swathe of Colombia’s agricultural land – as much as 20 million hectares – comprises pastures used for ranching, which are very inefficient due to the use of rudimental production systems. These areas could accommodate new plantations of oil palm, thus avoiding the expansion on other natural ecosystems such as forests or savannahs.”
Sign the below petition to urge Colombia’s government to improve agricultural practices for palm oil production to enable the nation to both stabilize the economy and protect the environment.
Dear President Santos,
Over twenty million hectares of your nation’s land is ineffectively used for agriculture, and this could accommodate many new oil palm plantations. Although, the production and harvesting of palm oil poses a serious environmental threat, Colombia is in a great position to lead the world as the largest environmentally-sustainable palm oil producer.
I am urging you to implement agricultural policies that make the production of palm oil more efficient. If your nation improves upon the rudimentary production systems, crop yields will be better and ecosystems will not be destroyed. This is the time for Colombia to take a leadership role in its own future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Energie-experten via WikiMedia