The Regenerative Palm Initiative: Palm Oil as a Keystone Crop for Regeneration in the Humid Tropics

Published on: December 22, 2020

The Origins of Palm Oil

If you were to walk through the palm oil groves of equatorial West Africa, you might find it difficult to distinguish between these man-made agroforests and the native forest from which they emerged. Such is the diversity and complexity of these traditional agroecological systems. In them lies the key to regenerating what has become one of the most controversial crops, agricultural systems and industries in the world.

Palm Oil (Elaeis guineensis) originated in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea (as far north as Guinea-Bissau and as far south as northwest Angola), and, for the indigenous peoples of the region such as the Yoruba, it has for millennia been considered ‘’the tree of life’’ and used for a wide variety of culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and spiritual purposes. Mixed intercropping and shifting polycultures incorporating palm oil have been a dominant aspect of indigenous agroecology for millennia. Their production systems make use of groundcover and understory crops that suppress weed growth, increase yields and optimize the growing conditions for palm oil by increasing light, water and nutrient availability. These farming communities have understood the importance of maintaining the health of the local ecosystem for their livelihoods and those of future generations.

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Why You Should Get Involved
with Palm Done Right

Palm can be grown for good, bringing benefits to:

  • Our planet, due to palm oil’s land efficiency.
  • Local communities, due to the economic development oil palm production creates.
  • Our market, due to palm oil’s versatility and functionality as an ingredient, lifting product quality and performance.

Together, we can influence change for:

  • Manufacturers that are still using conflict palm oil for their products.
  • Retailers that are still listing products that contain conflict palm oil.
  • Brokers and distributors that are still supplying their customers with products that contain conflict palm oil.
  • Shoppers that have the power to vote with their dollar.

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