NO to palm oil; president

Sri Lanka will halt the cultivation of oil palm in the country, while giving assistance to grow coconut in new areas, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in his address to the newly elected parliament.

“Plantation of palm oil trees will be stopped completely,” President Rajapaksa stressed.

Due to ad-hoc policies of successive governments on oil palm cultivation, Sri Lanka’s plantation industry is currently facing major difficulties, with a large amount of oil palm plants maturing in nurseries over three years, which could incur a loss of Rs.500 million to the industry.

Various environmental groups have also voiced concerns against oil palm cultivation. According to the Palm Oil Industry Association, an estimated Rs.26 billion has so far been invested in the industry and Sri Lanka has less than 11, 000 hectares of oil palm. Sri Lanka produces 23,000 tonnes of palm oil per annum and imports a staggering 220,000 tonnes of crude palm oil into the country each year, at a cost of approximately Rs.22 billion.

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