14 July 1999
Colombia plans to triple palm oil production

COLOMBIAS government is making ambitious plans to triple palm oil production despite the threats posed by the general lawlessness across the country, reports the Financial Times.

It is already the worlds fourth largest producer of palm oil after Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria. Production is estimated to top 465,000 tons this year.

The government has mapped out extensive areas for planting to achieve its target. It has also designed a more flexible credit system to finance the new plantations.

But one potential problem is that the price of palm oil has recently fallen. Another problem is that the governments scheme which encourages small-scale producers does not allow for the economies of scale or the technological developments that go with large plantations, according to some critics.

The Guardian also reports on the efforts of Colombias coffee farmers to expand production. The latest, and most profitable, development is the use of coffee waste to grow oriental mushrooms which can be sold at £30 a kilo.

  • Financial Times 14/07/99 page 36
  • The Guardian 14/07/99 page 4/5 (Society)