8M ha eyed for oil palm plantations
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Wednesday proposed the conversion of some 8 million hectares of idle, denuded and unproductive lands across the country into oil palm plantations.
Paje, who attended the launching of the Mindanao Barangay StraTreegic Forest Project (BSFP) here, said the country was losing P800 billion each year in production opportunities because of lands that are left idle.
He said the prospects of generating more cash out of these idle lands could be gleaned from the Indonesian example.
Indonesia, which has only 6 million ha of land planted with palm, makes $50 billion each year from the oil palm industry.
“That is almost the same as our national budget,” Paje said.
But Paje’s proposal was met with opposition here.
For Orlando Ravanera, Cooperative Development Authority regional director and environmentalist, food security and ecological integrity should be the government’s focus.
“Land should be used for food security, not for biofuel,” Ravanera said.
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LifeMosaic, in partnership with Friends of the Earth and Sawit Watch, coordinated a project aimed at bringing critical information about the impacts of oil palm to communities in plantation expansion areas, enabling them to make informed decisions about their lands and their futures.