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Indonesia in particular intends to increase the production of palm oil massively and to expand the cultivated areas still further.

However, the existing plantations could satisfy demands. If only they were managed according to the best agricultural practices (soil improvement by legumes and byrecycling of waste, more targeted use of pesticides, better water management, etc.). Then both output growth and long-term cultivation on the existing areas would be possible.

Indeed, the Indonesian environmental and human rights organisation WALHI is calling for an increase in yield on existing plantation areas to counteract the creation of new plantations.

Under the current poor agricultural practices, plantations are expected to have a life expectancy of 25 years; the conditions of the land thereafter is uncertain.
The extensive monocultural oil palm cultivation brings with it diverse and very serious problems.


Economic background
It is not only the export of palm oil as such which is highly profitable. As an extra profit or to pre-finance the plantations, primary forests are cleared to utilize the wood. Whether this is common practice or happens only occasionally, is not entirely clear. But as described above, the mere fact that today expansion is still cheaper than best practices on existing surfaces, means that more forest is cleared for palm oil production than is actually "necessary".

In addition, the allocation of concessions is often corrupt and the stated future use is inaccurate. This is facilitating land grabbing.

The largest part of the capital invested in palm oil production comes from Asia.However, the demand for palm oil is worldwide.

There is the opinion that calling for consumer boycotts is of little use, since nowadays the entire Flex Crops market, in which palm oil is included, is globally controlled and functions relatively independently of the individual consumer demand.

It thus might be more effective, in contrast, to fight the expansion of palm oil in "biofuels" as these are already strongly criticized.

"The emergence of 'flex crops' has also had a major impact. Flex crops are crops that have multiple uses (food, feed, fuel, industrial material) that can be easily and flexibly inter-changed: soya (feed, food, biodiesel), sugar cane (food, ethanol), oil palm (food, biodiesel, commercial/industrial uses), corn (food, feed, ethanol). Hence, in a single crop sector we find multiple contexts of land grabs: food, feed, energy/fuel and climate change mitigation strategies. These are articulated through increasingly entangled global commodity value chains, making it impossible to reduce all these heterogeneous dynamics to a single driver of land grabbing."

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