Is it true that Indonesia’s Oil Palm plantations are the largest monocultures in the world?

All of the world’s agricultural commodities cultivated in agricultural areas are monocultures. Wheat, corn, beans, rice and others throughout the world are cultivated by monoculture. According to USDA (2017) data, of the 224.28 million hectares of the world’s wheat cultivation, 30.2 million hectares are located in India, EU has 26.9 million hectares, China has 24.3 million hectares, Russia, 26.9 million hectares, the US 17.7 million hectares and Australia has 12.9 million hectares.

Meanwhile, of about 177.45 million hectares of corn cultivation in the world, 35 million hectares are located in the US. China has 36 million hectares, Brazil 16.4 million hectares, and India 9.5 million hectares. Meanwhile, of about 159 million hectares of rice cultivated in the world, 44.5 million hectares are located in India. China has 30.3 million hectares and Indonesia 12.1 million hectares.

Of the world vegetable oil production, Indonesia’s palm oil plantations cover an area of 11.6 million hectares in 2016, smaller than soybean farms of major soybean-producing countries (Figure 2.3). In the United States, the soybean- cultivation area reached 33.6 million hectares in 2016, and in Brazil it is about 33.8 million hectares, which is three times larger than Indonesia’s oil palm plantations. In Argentina, the area under soybean cultivation reached 19.5 million hectares and in India about 11.4 million hectares.

Thus, Indonesia’s oil palm plantations are not the largest monoculture commodity in the world, either among all commodities or in the world’s vegetable oil commodity group. For a comparison, Indonesia’s palm oil plantation area is onlyone-third of the land area of soy bean productionin the United States or Brazil. While in Indonesia, the rice-farming area is still larger than oil palm plantations.

Source: Palm oil Agribusiness Strategic Policy Institute

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