|Better Farming Series 24 - The Oil Palm (FAO - INADES, 1977, 40 p.)|
|Modern oil palm cultivation|
An oil palm begins to produce 3 or 4 years after it has been planted.
During that time the grower must spend money and work hard, without harvesting any fruit or earning any money.
2. To make a modern oil palm plantation takes money.
Most often you will have to pay workmen for clearing the site of the plantation and removing tree stumps.
Then you must buy seedlings and fertilizers.
Unless you apply fertilizers to the oil palms when they are still young, they will not grow well and you will have to wait a longer time before you can begin to harvest.
You may also have to pay workers to help you look after the young plantation. Weeds must not be allowed to get in the way of the oil palms, and the trees must be protected from damage by rats and agoutis.
All this work takes a lot of time, and this means that you may not have enough time to look after large fields of food crops.
You may have to buy food for your family.
Before you start an oil palm plantation, you must calculate carefully whether you will be able to pay all these expenses.
3. To grow oil palms takes a lot of work.
Before planting your oil palms, you have to clear the forest and remove the tree stumps.
Then it takes a lot of time to sow the cover crop, dig holes in the plantation, take the seedlings out of the nursery, carry, them to the plantation and plant them.
All this work needs to be carefully done; you must take your time.
Never hurry if you want to be successful with your plantation.
Once the oil palms are planted, you must put wire netting around the young trees, you must spread fertilizer and keep watch over the plantation.
Young oil palms need a lot of care. It is better to make a smaller plantation, but look after it carefully.
Once the oil palms have begun to produce, the fruit must be harvested at the right moment.
If you cannot pick the fruit at the right moment, it becomes too ripe, many clusters will drop and the quality of the fruit will be less good.
4. To grow oil palms takes much time and much care.
Do not try to cultivate too large an area, or the work will be badly done.
It is better to cultivate a small plantation and to do the work well.
A small plantation that is well looked after can yield more than a large plantation that is badly looked after.