The Financial Express

The case for palm oil extracting mills

Mohd Ashraf Hossain | Published: November 30, 2015 19:24:01 | Updated: October 23, 2017 03:57:52

The case for palm oil extracting mills
American doctor Stefan Ripich in his book The Diabetic Healing Diet has mentioned that fat is an essential component of a healthy diet. Nutrients should comprise 30 per cent of a person's total daily calories. Fat is necessary for hormone production, healthy bones and skin and for regulating all human body functions. Fat helps in absorbing nutrients, and even protects the organs inside the body. It stimulates leptin, a helpful hormone that keeps a person from overeating by sending the 'I'm full' signal. Excess carbohydrates create body fat in the human body. 'Food fat' does not create body fat. There are different kinds of fats. Saturated fats are highly stable and unlikely to become oxidised or rancid. Palm oil, coconut, peanut, sesame oils are examples of saturated fat. They provide nutrients for growth, hormones and energy, and provide elasticity for cell membranes. Human bodies need saturated fats to metabolise the essential fatty acids (EFA) that the body cannot produce.
Bangladesh imports 1.8 million metric tonnes of edible oil other than mustard seeds every year at a cost of more than $1.5 billion. Currently, more or less 1.5 million metric tonnes of crude palm oil and 0.3 million metric tonnes of crude soybean oil are being imported and refined in the country a year. In addition to that, Bangladesh imports 0.3 million tonnes of rap seeds, mustard seeds and canola seeds despite its production of about 0.5 million tonnes of mustard or rap seeds. Bangladesh has the potential for producing enough edible oil to meet its own demand within a couple of years.
Palm Olin, locally called palm oil, is low-cost edible oil. Its consumption is suitable for human health and most of us do not know about it. Its yield per hectare is much higher than any other edible oil. The average yield of Palm Olin was 3.74 tonnes per hectare in the world last year. Malaysia and Indonesia produce the highest quantity of Palm Olin and export it to different countries.
Temperature below 20 degree Celsius in the months of December and January is problematic for palm oil production in Bangladesh. The period from December to March is not suitable for palm cultivation, but irrigation can solve this problem caused by lack of rain. Most of the time in a year is suitable for Palm Olin production and oil yield in Bangladesh. Usually a palm fruit bunch weighs 20 to 30 kilogram (kg) in Malaysia and Indonesia, but at Ghatail in Tangail, Bangladesh, 63 kg bunches with standard fruit are found frequently.
Owing to global warming, the coastal areas in the country have become vulnerable to frequent natural calamities like cyclones, tidal surges etc. Lives and huge volumes of property are lost because of such natural calamities every year. In our coastal areas, a massive Palm Olin tree plantation programme could be undertaken. Apart from meeting the need for palm oil, it will reduce the devastating impact of natural calamities.
A significant number of Bangladeshis have gone to Malaysia and have been working in Palm Olin gardens there since long. They have practical experiences. They can be engaged in Palm Olin tree plantations in Bangladesh. Massive Palm tree plantations can make Bangladesh self-sufficient in edible oil production within five years and can help it save US$ 1.3 billion every year. As it is a labour-intensive project, employment of unskilled workforce in large numbers will increase fast through Palm Olin tree plantations.
According to a report published in a local daily, in Narail a farmer planted 85 palm trees in 2008 in a 57 decimal land. Since last year he has been getting palm fruit, but could not extract oil owing to lack of oil extracting mills, the report says. The news is frustrating for palm fruit growers. Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) should come forward to set up mini palm oil extracting mills in different palm-fruit growing areas immediately to solve the problem.
 Production of Palm Olin from palm fruit will expedite employment of skilled and semi-skilled workers. We need a few palm oil-related big projects to be undertaken by the government. The government may entrust the responsibility to BADC, the Department of Agricultural Extension, and the Forest Department for growing high-yield variety of Palm Olin in different regions of the country --- including the coastal areas.

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