Brazil has big plans for its palm oil industry. This “magic oil” is present everywhere, from beauty, to lubricants for automobile and biodiesel, to countless culinary uses.
Alone, it accounts for about 40% of the world trade in all vegetable oils and its production has almost doubled in recent years. But Malaysia and Indonesia together have a market share of over 80%.
Brazilian production is still relatively small, especially when compared to these two states, but has, say studies in the possession of the government, a huge area of land suitable for growing this palm, so the chances to grow in this lucrative business are enormous. Brazil is also one of the largest agricultural superpowers, the world’s largest exporter of coffee, corn, soybeans, sugar and beef. In recent years, palm oil farms have more than doubled and everything looks set to continue for the next decade.
Here is the big problem: because the appropriate land will be mostly conquered by the forest, especially in the Amazon. It is a recurrent problem to all palm oil exploration in the world, as numerous organizations have been warning, criticizing deforestation and the consequent loss of biodiversity. The European Parliament itself has already spoken out, seeking to establish rules for this trade (the EU is the largest importer) in order to defend tropical forests.
The economic pressures for allocating usable land in the Amazon will be enormous. If we learn something from the examples in the timber, livestock, and soy industries, it is generally that these pressures find some echo with “permeable” entities. And the current political uncertainty only accentuates these fears.