The paper examined the nexus between oil palm cultivation in the tropics and food security. It was established that food security is real in oil palm producing nations of the tropical world and has grave consequences on people and the economies. Some of the identified drivers of food insecurity include oil palm production policies that do not support food production, problem of economies of scale among smallholder farmers, increased land use pressure from expanding industrial and urban areas as well as poor food distribution system, among others. From theoretical perspective, some authors expressed a direct relationship between palm oil production and food insecurity. However, a number of empirical studies from different regions of the tropics indicated that palm oil production promote food security. In addressing how oil palm cultivation mitigates or promote food insecurity, we looked at palm oil and the pillars of food security – food availability, access, stability and utilization. For this to be achieved there must be changes to the use of palm oil through private regulatory regimes like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), acquisition of only reserve agricultural land or unused land instead of grabbing land already in use by local communities, and ensuring food crop integration into plantations. Thus, policy makers willing to maintain the tropical rain forest, expand cultivation of oil palm must consider the drivers of food insecurity and how expansion of oil palm cultivation, especially under smallholdings, promotes or negatively affects food security in the tropical region.
Part of the book: Elaeis guineensis