Rapid global growth in demand for palm oil has accelerated deforestation in some of the most environmentally sensitive and biodiverse parts of the world. With the growth in the world’s population predicted to drive a 70% increase in demand for food, this pressure is only going to get worse. Based on current agricultural practices, the growth in demand for food will require the use of over 900 million hectares of new land worldwide. That's why, it’s more urgent than it has ever been that in the palm oil industry we find new ways of increasing yield, so we can produce more oil from the same land.
Breakthrough innovation comes in many forms. It ranges from powered by through to satellite monitoring that enables in the plantation, from creating a healthy to in our harvesting and milling processes; each step drives the whole effort forward. Increasingly, we can ensure that the best potential yield from each and every palm adds up to getting the best yield from the entire plantation.
We’re to enable other researchers in scientific institutions and industry to accelerate their ability to increase yield. It is 79 percent more detailed than anything publicly available previously and has relevance for other sectors, such as coconut and date palm, that are also seeking to modernise and produce more crop from less land, as other agricultural industries have already done.
We’re now extending our research into other traits that are crucial to the future success of the industry, such as climate resilience, disease resistance and ease of harvesting. Meanwhile, we’re scaling up production of our higher-yielding seeds to meet all our own replanting needs and also make them commercially available to other producers.
Traceability of supply continues to be critical to efforts to halt deforestation. That’s why in 2019, we released , an open-access digital tool taking traceability to the mill level, identifying risks in the forest landscape and inviting people to alert us to any problems that may occur on the ground. Continuing to push ahead on expanding the base of suppliers committed to no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation remains a top priority. Alongside determined efforts to increase transparency and traceability in the supply chain, innovation to increase yield and therefore produce more from existing land provides a new opportunity to make palm oil production more sustainable in the future.
The publication of our genome map is another step in our journey to help create a deforestation-free industry. We hope that this research can inspire a vision for the entire industry to meet the long-term demand to produce more oil while drawing the line on deforestation.