COLOMBO / MUMBAI (Reuters) – Sri Lanka on Monday banned palm oil imports and new palm plantations, telling producers to phase out existing plantations in a surprise move that puzzled the industry. of edible oil.
Palm oil imports and the number of plantations have increased in recent years in Sri Lanka, a leading producer of coconut oil.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a statement that the goal was “to free the country from oil palm plantations and palm oil consumption.”
Environmentalists say palm oil production has led to widespread deforestation and damage to ecosystems.
Sri Lanka imports around 200,000 tonnes of palm oil each year, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, traders estimate.
“Those companies and entities that have made such crops (of palm oil) must eliminate them in a staggered manner with 10% uprooting at a time and replacing it with the cultivation of rubber or environmentally friendly crops every year”, the statement of said the president’s office.
Sri Lanka’s palm oil industry has invested 26 billion Sri Lankan rupees ($ 131 million) and the country has around 11,000 hectares of palm plantations, just over 1% of the total area planted with tea, rubber and coconut, according to Palm estimates. Petroleum Industry Association.
($ 1 = 199,0000 Sri Lankan rupees)
Report by Waruna Karunatilake in COLOMBO and Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI. Edited by Mark Potter