Natural-Habitats
organic products grown in a sustainable habitat

Can Palm Oil Production Be Sustainable?

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25 June 2013

environment, farmers, social reponsibility

To answer this question, first let’s look on the definition of sustainability.
“The concept of sustainability is derived from the notion of sustainable development, which is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment, so that these needs can be met not only in present but also for future generations.” (Buchholtz, Carroll 2012)
Sustainability is about embracing environmental, economic and social criteria together, and not compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Sustainability in agriculture describes farming systems that are “capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely. Such systems... must be resource-conserving, socially supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally sound.” (John Ikerd, as quoted by Richard Duesterhaus in "Sustainability's Promise," Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (Jan.-Feb. 1990) 45(1): p.4. NAL Call # 56.8 J822)
Here is the way Farm Bill of 1990 defines sustainable agriculture. Under that law, “the term sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:
- satisfy human food and fiber needs;
- enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon, which the agricultural economy depends;
- make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
- sustain the economic viability of farm operations;
- enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
Organic and sustainable production in Natural Habitats is the starting point of the business process. It is essential for us to develop constantly environmental and conservation practices.
We build sustainable business through: sustainable crop production, ecosystem management and protection, resource conservation and energy efficiency, integrated waste management, fair labor practices (ensuring at least minimum wage, pay taxes), community benefits (social projects), product quality and safety.
In order to enhance the quality of life for local communities, we allocate 1 % of our sales each year to social and environmental stewardship programs.
Also we are concerned about the CO2 footprint we leave. Organic farming plays a key role in soil carbon sequestration. Our operations return CO2 to the soil by using poly cropping with perennials crops, less use of fuels, and adding organic compost.
We plant only on already degraded land or grassland. We NEVER touch primary forest. Planting on degraded land or grassland allows converting more CO2 into oxygen than the degraded or grassland would.
Natural Habitats Group is currently involved in a large scale project to generate carbon credits. Due to the CO2 reduction initiatives and the conversion of organic waste into organic compost we are able to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint and the carbon footprint of others.
Of the land we acquire, 80% is used for organic production, 5% is used for infrastructure and rest 15% of the land is to create a bio-diverse environment with all kinds of flora and fauna, which makes palm trees more protected from any kind of diseases.
Rainwater is captured and used for irrigation and sanitary systems.
Use of fossil fuelled equipment is avoided as much as possible. Natural force, such as mules and oxen, is preferred and is capable of doing work even better than tractors.

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Biodiversity and forest conservation

At Natural Habitats, we are aware of the importance of the biodiversity and its conservation, for that reason we have acquired primary and secondary forestland for conservation and study purposes. Moreover, cooperating companies and smallholders have to sign an agreement explicitly stating they will preserve primary forest. There are no orangutans in Ecuador and Liberia, originally.

Conservation programs

We are constantly working on the development of learning programs to promote the security of all threatened species in the surrounding areas; to do so we organize mingas (cleaning working days with communities) and teach the people how to correctly manage, dispose and recycle their garbage; this activity contributes not only to the environment but also to the people’s health and hygiene by reducing diseases and contamination.

All the operation that we conduct go in line with sustainability principles. To answer the question of the article: Can palm oil production be sustainable? -Yes, it can be.

 

Blog & News

Palm Oil Is Everywhere

Palm oil (Elaeis guineensis) originates from West Africa. Once planted, after 3-4 years’ palm oil trees start to producing its first fruits and will continue all year-round for up to 30 years. Oil Palm is high yielding; it produces more oil per hectare than any other major oil seed crop.

Did you know that half of your items in your house contain palm oil?
Palm oil is also the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet

farmers, social reponsibility, environment, organic

Why Farm Organically?

With a growing population, nearly 10 billion people by 2050, and an increasing demand for food, agriculture is placed under extreme pressure. We heavily rely on services that the industry provides to us, such as food, clothes, wood, and many others. Unfortunately, with biodiversity losses and deforestation practices that accompany modern agriculture, these services are currently at risk. Therefore, we must take actions to sustain biodiversity, soils and forests for the generations to come

social reponsibility, environment, farmers, organic

An Important Role of Intercropping in Modern Agriculture

Population of our planet is constantly growing. The threat of insufficient food supply in the near future encourages intensification of the search for more productive agricultural technics. At Natural Habitats, we believe that well-planned intercropping is one of the most effective and sustainable ways to increase agricultural productivity.

Intercropping, as well as other forms of multiple cropping, is an ancient method of intensive agriculture that involves cultivation of two or more crops simultaneously on the same field

environment, farmers

Mainstream Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Ecuador

Deforestation caused by many palm-oil producers, harming wildlife habitats, has been a widespread concern around the world. However, more and more palm oil is now being sourced sustainably with a help of the certification initiative promoted by a non-profit association Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) that aims to transform markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm. Natural Habitats as 100% organic and sustainable producer was certified with RSPO standard in 2013.

In May 2013, Natural Habitats in Ecuador (Exportsustent) together with Solidaridad and National Association of Oil Palm Growers (ANCUPA) developed a pioneering project Mainstream Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Ecuador

farmers, environment, partnership, social reponsibility

An Ongoing Education of Farmers

Natural Habitats believes in doing business in harmony with the environment. This is the reason for us to continuously encourage smallholder farmers in Ecuador and Sierra Leone into getting involved in organic and sustainable production of palm oil.

On a regular basis, we educate and train our smallholder farmers in nature preservation and organic farming practices for not only their own good but for the betterment of the society

farmers, partnership, social reponsibility

Fair Trade Explained

Today, we are surrounded by numerous certifications on the products we buy at supermarkets. It is getting more and more confusing to figure out what exactly most of them stand for. Some labels are self-explanatory and some are not. Fair for Life Social and FairTrade certification belongs to the second category. Therefore, most of the consumers do not even realize that while they purchase Fair for Life or FairTrade certified products they contribute to the empowerment of poor around the world

farmers, social reponsibility, environment

Why Healthy Palm Oil is not an Oxymoron

When people hear about palm oil the first thing that usually comes to their mind is heart disease. The logic is pretty simple: fifty per cent of the oil consists of saturated fat that supposed to be bad for the heart, therefore, palm oil causes heart disease. However, numerous studies continue to confirm that palm oil does not promote heart problems and, if anything, it protects against them

cooking, health

Sustaining Food Security

Pressure on the world’s food supply is constantly increasing due to population growth, changing diets and government policies promoting biofuels. Current estimates suggest that by 2050 the food demand will be twice what it was in 2005. Biotech companies have strongly promoted the idea that genetically engineered (GE) crops are the key to “feeding the world”. According to Environmental Working Group , recent studies show that this promise has fallen flat

environment, farmers, social reponsibility