Colombia’s palm oil industry calls for stricter controls

Colombia’s National Federation of Palm Oil Growers (Fedepalma) called for the government to exercise greater control in their sector, in order to prevent illicit drug money being invested in the industry, El Heraldo reported Thursday.

Speaking at the country’s 48th National Cultivators Congress, Fedepalma’s president Jens Mesa Dishington expressed concern that the oil palm industry is being increasing infiltrated and funded by illegal activity, such as drug-trafficking and guerrilla and paramilitary violence.

“We note with concern the unprecedented expansion of palm cultivation in some regions and by people not always clearly identifiable,” said Mesa Dishington. “This may respond in part to the infiltration of resources linked to illegal activities.”

The Fedepalma president said the federation did not want such activity to damage the reputation of the industry.

“There have been cases of palm trees that were later seized by authorities due to drug issues. This worries us because it would affect the image of the sector, which mostly consists of serious and thoughtful entrepreneurs.”

The Federation of Palm Oil Growers said it considers it vital to design and implement effective monitoring mechanisms and sanctions against such risks that “are not unique to our industry.”

Mesa Dishington did not give details as to the areas affected by investment of illegal money, or about how many hectares of crops may be involved.

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