China selects species for mass oil palm planting

The Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences has selected its first oil palm species for mass planting in China, Xinhuanet reported on 14 April.

Zeng Xianhai, the chief scientist of the academy’s palm tree research programme, said Elaeis Guineenusus Jacq Reyou No 4 had yielded 2.8 tonnes/ha of palm oil when grown at a trial plantation on the south China island province of Hainan.

The academy planned to expand the cultivation of the species to the Yunnan and Guangdong provinces in southern China, Zeng added.

Zeng said China had attempted to introduce oil palm cultivation in the 1980s but failed.

China’s first successful transplantation of oil palm seedlings was made in 2011, Xinhuanet wrote.

The Hainan trial began in 2015, with the academy saying it had taken two years to grow oil palm on a 5ha trial site.

“These two years have proved that seedlings can grow well in fields,” Zeng had said in 2017.

Xinhuanet said China was the world’s second highest importer of palm oil, taking 6.65M tonnes of the oil in 2018.

The selection of Elaeis Guineenusus Jacq Reyou No 4 follows the February announcement of the Chinese government’s “Number one central document” – the first policy statement released by central authorities each year and seen as an indicator of policy priorities. The document said the government would encourage the plantation of woody oil plants, roll out a plan to increase soyabean planting and support the dairy industry, according to the China Central Television Network.