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How Kratom Farming Can Disrupt the Palm Oil Industry (And Why That’s a Good Thing)

Farmers working against a backdrop of palm trees and forest

Kratom and palm oil are both cultivated throughout Southeast Asia, but Kratom enjoys a better environmental reputation. Due to growing environmental concerns brought about by the rapid escalation of climate change, the relationship between palm oil and the environment is under increased scrutiny. The conversation about the harmful effects on natural resources, wildlife, and indigenous peoples by the palm industry is reaching a crescendo, and Kratom could be part of the solution to reining in unfettered destruction of our forests.

What Is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is a versatile vegetable oil harvested from the fruits of oil palm trees. It is one of the few saturated vegetable oils and has proven immensely popular not only in its native areas but in Western culture. It is a common additive in popular foods, especially those highly processed, used for cooking worldwide, and a common ingredient in health and beauty products. This has led to a huge demand to the tune of 17 pounds per person, per year, according to one source. This has turned a once regional source of dietary fat into a huge cash crop, setting up Kratom and Palm Oil for a potential collision.

What’s the Problem?

This huge demand is funding an ecological disaster. Demand is currently far outstripping production and has been for decades. Oil palms take space and resources to grow in number, and traditional farming and harvesting methods that made use of wild growth trees and smaller plots cannot keep up. In order to support consumer demand, the large agricultural companies who harvest, process, and sell palm oil needed larger operations to support larger profits. This has led to the destruction of an entire forest to create vast monocrop plantations of oil palm trees.

The forests throughout Southeast Asia are a rich and diverse ecosystem. Wild Kratom and palm oil trees abound, but so do thousands of other plants. These plants support endangered species like the Sumatran Tiger and Orangutans. They’re also home to indigenous people who have lived in small villages throughout the region for generations. When a clear cutting operation moves into the area, it destroys everything, habitat, wildlife, and homes. Big palm oil operations and the environment don’t mix.

An orangutan sitting in a tree

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is an evergreen tree that is regarded by the people of the region as a medicinal plant. Used for hundreds of years, it has slowly garnered interest from western researchers over the past few decades for its potential benefits. The leaves of the plant are selectively harvested, leaving the remainder of the plant gently pruned to continue its growth and future production. The leaves are dried, ground, and sold as powders, extracts, or formulated into other products. It is not uncommon to find Kratom and palm oil trees in close proximity to each other throughout southeast Asia.

How They Compete With Each Other

As a cash crop, the lure of wealth promised by palm oil producers is often too much for people in the area to refuse. As this oil increases in popularity, however, Kratom is proving to be a separate cash crop with a far different agricultural model. By building the industry on sustainable and ethical farming practices, Kratom is offering to fight the money behind palm oil with plenty of money of its own, all while protecting the land, wildlife, and people of the southeast Asian forests.

Rather than large, monoculture plantations, Kratom is harvested wild or grown in small, family farms, often no bigger than a backyard. Fair trade practices give local farming families value for value, enabling an income source that helps them thrive today while preparing the next generation to take over operations when it’s time. Because the money is available from Kratom, we see three major differences between areas high in Kratom and palm oil production.

  • The Land Is Healthier—The harvesting of Kratom is done by hand. Indigenous farmers pinch select leaves from their Kratom trees. The rest of the tree—and more importantly, the jungle around it—is left untouched. It is still a biodiverse ecosystem with a variety of plants and animals working in balance. The soil remains rich and fertile. The landscape retains its natural contours and vegetation.
    Even for Kratom farms, the reality is far different from oil palm plantations. These small operations are only as big as what one or a few families can work together. Kratom trees take space to grow, and other crops are often planted to provide food and help return nutrients to the soil. It is sustainable, ecologically friendly subsistence farming on a micro level.
  • The Animals Abound—Because their habitat remains intact, the animals of the area are free to thrive. This includes not just the species that are in jeopardy, but all the species that support a balanced ecosystem.
  • The Indigenous Population Remains—Rather than being forced to flee to cities for shelter or move there for income opportunities, small populations and their traditions can remain in the area. Fair trade policies make both Kratom and palm oil viable income sources, so they can choose sustainable Kratom farming over the destruction of palm oil plantations. They’re able to support their communities while staying true to the histories, beliefs, and ways of life that have worked for hundreds of years to create healthy, tight-knit communities. This preserves a part of the past that, once gone, cannot be regained, and we are all the richer for its presence.

Ethical Kratom Products

We’re proud of the impact we have on the forests of Southeast Asia and respectful of our responsibilities to create a sustainable, ethically sourced Kratom supply that offers our customers the highest quality of product. If you’d like more information about our products, environmental efforts, or policies, call our customer service experts at (888) 510-2038. Order your premium Kratom from Kratom Spot today.