Oil Palm: The Golden Crop of The Last Five Decades

Oil palm, a perennial plant belonging to family Palmae and subfamily Cocoideae, is a unique tree with higher economic value. The scientific name of it is Elaeis guineensis.

Oil palm covers 7% of the total cultivated lands for vegetable oils globally, but has the highest output, producing 40 % of all oils and fats.

M. Jerry Wales, a European Planter, commenced the cultivation of Oil Palm in Sri Lanka in 1968 at Nakiyadeniya Estate by planting 68 oil palm plants covering an extent of 0.50 Ha. Since 1968, oil palm cultivation has rapidly increased throughout the Low Country Wet Zone of Sri Lanka as it was seen as an economical and profitable crop for the last 50 years.

Since 1968, oil palm cultivation has been going through various changes in the Plantation Management Practices such as:

  • Nursery Management
  • Replanting techniques and agronomic practices
  • Harvesting operations and agronomic practices in a mature area
  • Development in human skills
  • Mechanization
  • Digital-aid plantation monitoring system
  • Sustainable environment management

Also, the livelihood of the people and the villages around the plantation have been sustainably developed.

Each management practice mentioned above plays a significant role to achieve the optimum oil yield per hectare through improving the bunch weight, number of bunches and oil in a bunch. This has resulted in a higher yield per ha (YPH) as well. Watawala Plantations has achieved the highest YPH amongst the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) during the past.

The significant achievements of yield and sustainability were the result of the company’s innovative and persevered approach in “doing things differently for improved results”. Accordingly, Watawala Plantations has set a vision for the year 2025 through a strategic road map to achieve a YPH of 20 tons. The company expects to reach this achievement of excellence, through motivation, developing the human capital and by the process of participatory management.

We are also proud that we reached the next milestone in our development of sustainable oil palm plantations, achieving the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification for the palm oil mill and our concessions in Galle District in October 2020. The momentous recognition makes us the first plantations company in South Asia and Sri Lanka to be certified with this coveted accreditation.