The Palm Oil Industry Association (POIA), the umbrella body representing the industry across the island, recently launched its National Environmental Sustainability Program. As part of this program, POIA will spearhead the “Together with Mee” initiative, which will see the planting of 100,000 local trees, including Mee trees, in palm oil plantations across the island, to mark the World environment day 2022.
This initiative will cover oil palm fields in Galle, Kalutara, Rathnapura and Kegalle districts. To mark the inauguration of ‘Together with Mee’, nearly 5,000 Mee saplings were planted in POIA member estates, in collaboration with estate workers and villagers. POIA plans to complete the planting of its goal of 100,000 local trees, including Mee trees, before World Environment Day 2023.
The inauguration of the “Together with Me” initiative coincided with World Environment Day, which fell on 5 June.
Several workshops on environmental protection, biodiversity, identification of endemic animals and environmental conservation were also organized for schoolchildren, government agencies and local communities.
The event also included art competitions and general knowledge quizzes, as well as a session on waste recycling and an innovation-focused design competition for school children, for which prizes were awarded to support education. winners were distributed at the end of the contest.
POIA Chairman Dr. Rohan Fernando said, “The Sri Lankan palm oil industry, represented by 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 national demand for edible oil and ensure self-sufficiency.
“Through the launch of our broader national environmental sustainability program and the ‘Together with Me’ initiative, we intend to further strengthen the industry, while contributing directly to environmental conservation. The mee tree is an endemic plant that has been used since ancient times to conserve the carbon balance of the environment, provide natural soil nourishment and control pests.
“It has also been identified as a source of natural fertilizer for crops. Thus, it is the most suitable tree for intercropping with a variety of crops, to reduce environmental impact and protect the productive capacity of our soils,” he said.
The ancient Sri Lankans are known to have considered the mee tree to be a plant of high medicinal value. However, for centuries, the destruction of Mee trees by European imperialists had a profound effect on the peoples and ecosystems of the island. The recovery of the mee tree is a huge investment in the future of the country, in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits. Initiatives like this are key to ensuring the sustainability of plantations and the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka.
The Palm Oil Industry Association (POIA) is the supreme body representing the interests of the palm oil cultivation and production industries of Sri Lanka. The organization seeks to improve the industry while supporting the nation, through the creation of economic opportunities and the conservation of the environment and the precious natural resources of Sri Lanka.
Through collective action, POIA envisions a future where Sri Lanka is self-sufficient in its edible oil needs, while potentially emerging as a net exporter of palm oil, strengthening the national economy and creating new opportunities for oil palm communities and others around the world. island.