The Palm Oil Industry Association (POIA), the apex body representing the industry across the island,recently launched its National Environmental Sustainability Programme.
Under this programme, POIA will conduct the “Together with Mee” initiative, which will see the planting of 100,000 local trees including Mee trees on palm oil estates across the island, to mark World Environment Day 2022.
This initiative will cover oil palm fields inthe Galle, Kalutara, Rathnapura, and Kegalle districts. To mark the inauguration of “Together with Mee”, nearly 5,000 Mee saplings were planted across POIA member estates, in collaboration with estate workers and villagers. POIAintends to complete the planting of its target of 100,000 local trees including Mee treesbefore World Environment Day 2023, and has received the support and commitment of all its members in this regard.
The inauguration of the “Together with Mee” initiative coincided with World Environment Day, which fell on the 5th of June 2022. In addition to the tree-planting event, the inauguration alsowitnessed the participation of religious leaders, schoolchildren, government agencies, and local communities, in several workshops on environmental protection, biodiversity, endemic animal identification, and environmental conservation. The event also featured art competitions and general knowledge quizzes, along with a session on garbage recycling, and an innovation-centric design competition for schoolchildren, for which prizes to support winners’ education were distributed at the end of the competition.
Discussing the programme, Dr.Rohan Fernando- President POIA said, “Sri Lanka’spalm oil industry, represented by the POIA, has always been committed to environmental and social sustainability. Through sustainable production, we are helping to strengthen Sri Lanka’s economy by producing palm oil locally, to meet the nation’s demand for edible oil, and ensure self-sufficiency. Through the launch of our wider National Environmental Sustainability Programme and the Together with Mee initiative, we intend to further strengthen the industry, while directly contributing towards environmental conservation.The Mee Tree is an endemic plant that has been utilized since ancient times to conserve the carbon balance of the environment, provide natural nourishment to the soil, and control pests. It has also been identified as a unique source of natural fertilizer for crops. Thus, this is the most suitable tree for intercropping with a variety of crops, to reduce environmental impacts and protect the productive capacity of our soils.”
Ancient Sri Lankans are further known to have considered the Mee Tree as a plant with high medicinal value. However,for centuries, the destruction of MeeTrees by European imperialistshas had a profound effect on the peoples and ecosystems of the island. Accordingly, the re-establishment of the MeeTree is a huge investment into the future of the country, in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits. Initiatives such as this are key to ensuring the sustainability of Sri Lanka’s plantations and agricultural sector.
The Palm Oil Industry Association (POIA) is the apex body representing the interests of Sri Lanka’s oil palm cultivation and palm oil production industries. The body seeks to improve the industry while supporting the nation, through the creation of economic opportunity and conservation of the environment and Sri Lanka’s valuable natural resources. Through collective action, the POIA envisions a future where Sri Lanka is self-sufficient in its edible oil requirements, while also potentially emerging as a net exporter of palm oil, strengthening the national economy and creating new opportunities for oil palm communities and others across the island.