The oil palm tree is the most efficient oil crop in terms of land use. It has the highest yield compared to other oil crops per hectare of land. When the oil palm trees are three to four years old the fruits are harvested.
Global palm oil production has increased from 15.2 million tons in 1995 to 62.6 million tons in 2015. This is the highest production volume of all vegetable oils, exceeding the second biggest oilseed crop by more than 10 million tons. This volume is mainly produced by Indonesia (53 per cent) and Malaysia (32 per cent). There has also been a marked increase in palm oil production in other parts of the world. Most of the additional volume is generated in South and Central America (3.4 million tons), Thailand (1.8 million tons) and Western Africa (2.4 million tons).
Among major oilseed crops, oil palm accounts for the smallest percentage (5.5 per cent) of all the cultivated land for oils and fats globally, but produces the largest percentage (32 per cent) of total output. It uses less than half the land required by other crops (such as sunflower, soybean or rapeseed oil) to produce the same amount of oil.
Despite these advantages, the impact of oil palms growing on High Conservation Values Areas, peat land, and former tropical forests, are issues that need to be adequately addressed. Production and use of sustainable palm oil will help to maintain or enhance biological, ecological and social values in the countries of origin.