Source: NY Times
The World Bank’s Palm Oil Mistake
By THOMPSON AYODELE
WHEN the World Bank held its annual meeting last weekend, there was much discussion of trade imbalances and currency wars, but nothing about Nigerian palm oil. That’s a shame, because the bank’s loans for plantation agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions — some $132 million of which have gone to palm oil cultivation — have been humanitarian and economic triumphs. Yet now, under misguided pressure from environmental groups, the bank is turning its back on the program.
Palm oil, which is extracted from the pulp of the oil palm, is an essential food in sub-Saharan Africa and other poor regions. Accounting for almost 40 percent of the world’s vegetable oils, it is an indispensable source of vitamins and calories. The developing world is heavily reliant on palm as a source of nutrition because the plant thrives in tropical climates and yields significantly more fats and calories than other options. It gives the developing world — where hundreds of millions of men and women still live on a few dollars a day — the most caloric bang for the buck. (more…)