Diversify Your Oil Palm Plantation: 5 Things to Plant Besides Oil Palm
In recent years, the price of palm oil has been rather volatile and unstable. This is due mainly to the sharp drop in demand, caused by efforts from the European Union to ban palm oil-derived biofuels.
The Malaysian authorities have therefore been encouraging oil palm planters, especially smallholders, to diversify their crops.
Crop diversification is beneficial in many ways. For starters, they help offset and compensate any losses you may experience due to the instability of palm oil. They’re also good for the environment as different crops help maintain a better balance in soil nutrition and ecology.
Here are some crops and other enterprises you can consider incorporating into your plantation:
Malaysian Durians have garnered quite a good reputation overseas, and it is known for its good quality and taste. Malaysian durian species such as Musang King, D24 and Black Thorn are in high demand, especially in China.
China imports about 300,000 tons of durian each year. However, as of 2019, Malaysia only exports about 17,000 tons of durian there. There is definitely room for Malaysian growers to fulfill the high demand in China. Durians here can fetch a high price, whereby 300g of the fruit can sell for as high as RM180.
Pineapples may seem like a pretty unremarkable fruit. However, they’re being dubbed the new source of wealth for Malaysia because of increased demand for this fruit. Again, the main importer of Malaysian pineapples is China.
The Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board ( MPIB) expects that demand for these fruits will increase from RM155 million a year in 2017 to RM320 a year in 2020. Malaysian growers have been told to step up their game and meet the high demand.
Many people do not know that bamboo actually fetches a high price in the market. There are more than a thousand bamboo species in Southeast Asia, and they are mostly used in construction and in the fabrication of bamboo furniture. One very tough and hardy bamboo species is the Betong bamboo, whereby one stalk can sell for up to RM200.
Vanilla has a very high demand, and dried vanilla pods in Malaysia can sell for up to RM2000 per kg. However, cultivating the vanilla plant is challenging and requires a lot of dedication and commitment. Vanilla does not produce its pods until about 4-5 years after planting. However, when done right, the returns are enormous.
If you do decide to venture into vanilla planting, it is advisable to consult and work closely with vanilla farmers who already have a successful plantation.
- Stingless Bee Honey or Kelulut Honey
Although Kelulut bees are not really a crop or plant, they are truly worth considering. The demand for Kelulut Honey is on the rise in recent years. This is due to the medicinal values of the honey and the fact that it can be cultivated easily.
As long as there are flowering plants somewhere on your plantation, you can easily erect wooden honeycomb boxes. There are more than 30 species of stingless bees in Malaysia, and they all produce honey. The bees don’t need to be fed. All you have to do is provide them with water, flowering plants and a bit of damar resin from trees ( such as rubber, jackfruit, “cempedak”, etc) within a 2km radius.
After that, each honeycomb can sell for between RM300-RM500 each. This enterprise uses your plantation’s natural resources that are already there.
Image credit: Marufish@Flickr
Diversifying your oil palm plantation doesn’t mean neglecting your palm trees. Instead, you can ensure that your plantation enjoys a more sustainable future. Your income will be able to stabilize more too when you don’t depend solely on one crop.