Over the years, issues such has deforestation, loss of wildlife and health concerns have given palm oil and the palm oil industry an unfavourable reputation. However, in the last decade, vast efforts have been made to align palm oil production with global concerns, making oil palm cultivation one of the more sustainable and economically viable crops available.
According to Harvard nutrition experts, palm oil is better than high trans-fat shortenings and probably a better choice than butter. Some studies have even shown that palm oil can help reduce the risk factors for heart disease and aid in brain functioning. Palm oil is also high in tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E that act like antioxidants.
The impact of palm oil cultivation and processing solely depends on agricultural and industry practices, as it is for any crop. In recent years, most high-volume crops have come under the microscope not due to the nature of the crop, but rather due to poor farming, harvesting and processing practices. Prioritising sustainability and environmental responsibility is the only way to address these issues, as is being done for oil palm cultivation in Sri Lanka.
As a country impacted by a deficit in edible vegetal oils that is reliant on palm oil imports, the local economy can be strengthened with the expansion of sustainable palm oil production. Cultivating oil palm is also considered a less labour-intensive process, where workers and their families can not only earn a higher income, but also be able to enjoy a higher standard of living.