CARTAGENA, Colombia – Colombia, the world’s fifth-leading palm oil producer, will finish 2012 with a record output of 1 million tons, the Fedepalma federation representing growers and producers said.
That figure was provided by the federation’s president, Jens Meza, at the opening of the 17th International Palm Oil Conference in this Caribbean resort city.
In a press conference after the inauguration ceremony, Meza also predicted that Colombia’s output of the vegetable oil will exceed 1.6 million tons within four years.
“We have a lot of palm oil trees planted that have not yet come into production. With what we’ve planted today and when all that comes into production, without planting more, we’re saying we’ll easily surpass 1.6 million tons of oil,” Meza said.
“We’re talking about another economy,” the Fedepalma chief said, referring to the important role of the palm oil industry in Colombia.
Roughly 40 percent of Colombia’s palm oil production is used to meet the demands of food manufacturers, while an equal proportion supplies the growing local biodiesel market and the remaining 20 percent is exported.
Meza also predicted that when production reaches 1.6 million tons annually all of the additional volume will be either exported or used to increase the proportion of palm oil in the diesel blend,” adding that he is confident the government “will open the door to that possibility.”
The diesel sold in Colombia, which is also one of the world’s leading palm oil consumers, currently contains 90 percent fossil fuel and 10 percent biodiesel, a blend known as B10, but Meza expects a B15 blend to be approved by 2015 and B20 in 2020.
Meza said palm oil crop production helps formalize rural economies, adding that “alliances have been formed between large business owners and small producers and thus far 115 strategic productive alliances are in place covering some 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) and benefiting more than 6,000 peasant families.”
A total of 1,850 participants from 31 countries have gathered at this year’s conference, including palm oil producers, investors, suppliers, researchers and government officials. EFE