Oil palms are grown on both large-scale plantations and small-scale family farms. The challenge of their sustainable cultivation is two-fold: achieve the highest yields while impacting nature as little as possible. As a result of population and prosperity growth in countries such as China and India, the demand for palm oil continues to grow strongly. Palm oil production is expected to grow by more than 25 per cent by 2020 to a global level of more than 68 million tons. In most palm oil-producing countries, palm oil trade has the potential to contribute significantly to economic growth and poverty reduction.
With this global rise in the demand for palm oil, the areas of land dedicated to palm oil cultivation are expanding rapidly. The challenge is to ensure that the expansion takes place sustainably, with respect for people and nature in countries with some of the most bio-diverse regions of the planet. Deforestation and the decrease of carbon stocks (areas which retain a large amount of carbon) are serious issues. If not properly managed, large-scale palm oil productions can adversely affect valuable nature, cause infringements of the land rights of the local population and may lead to excessive use of pesticides.