Originally from Africa, the palm tree grows abundantly here and is embedded in the landscape with other crops. The original tree, the Dura is largely replaced by the dwarf palm Tenera which provides more palm oil, from the fruits and kernels, and is easier to harvest, similar to our tall and low stemmed fruit trees. On the plantations with 7000 hect.and with many small farmers who live and work around the plantations, the Dura varieties also still grow and are processed separately at the oil mill
Gold Tree ensures the sustainability and organic certification of plantations and smaller farmers, biodiversity, and increasing farmers' sales for the local market and exports, with farmers benefiting from the harvest and trade through a higher premium than just the local market.
An additional advantage is the much shorter route palm oil takes from Africa to Europe, versus long transportation routes from Asia and South America.
Organic palm plantations
According to DID-IT, a complete redefinition of a palm plantation is needed. Instead of extreme monoculture with high use of fertilizers and herbicides, an integration with animal husbandry is needed to overcome both elements.
The appropriate element to add for Sierra Leone could be the introduction of chickens. Both manure and foraging on insects and nitrogen-binding underbrush would be a very positive contribution. The palm kernel cake that remains is suitable for feed.
In addition, for both smaller farmers and the plantations, the spread of income to meat from roosters and hatched hens, and eggs in addition to palm is a welcome expansion. For the specific conditions of climate and available feed, cooperation is being sought with poultry organizations. Together with Planting Naturals, DiD-IT will take up the project as soon as possible.
The aim is for the population to be as self-sufficient as possible.
This will include chickens but also agricultural projects for growing rice and other tropical crops.
Food products and palm oil
Palm oil is a staple ingredient in the food industry, mainstream and organic. But palm oil is rightly criticized for deforestation and other bad practices such as working conditions in mainstream palm oil extraction.
Where vegetable fats are mentioned as an ingredient, it will often be palm oil in margarines, spreads (chocolate spread),cookies and other foods.
Palm-free is not an option, the hard fraction can be replaced with other hard fats but they can cause the same problems, or by hydrogenating liquid fats, hydrogenation, which can produce unwanted trans fats.
In fact, farming palms for oil is necessary to meet the fat requirements of the world's population. The commonly used palm oil substitute shea oil is far from being able to replace a substantial portion of palm oil use, is not cultivation but wild gathering and thus a source of labor problems, and is also chemically processed to replace the hard part of palm.
For DID-IT, the only solution is to use organic palm oil.
Deforestation is prohibited in the organic standard, non-organic plantations are converted.
No fertilizers or pesticides or other chemicals may be used.
The palm oil is fully traceable and can therefore be guaranteed.
Biodiversity and nitrogen-fixing plants are used.
Palm oil is available from companies affiliated with RSPO IP (RoundTable of Sustainable Palm Oil), this oil is traceable but not organic.
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