Congratulations to Asst Prof Janice Lee who has been awarded a Tier 1 grant! With this grant, Asst Prof Lee is addressing obstacles to sustainable oil palm production at different points in the supply chain. While Singapore plays an important role both as a hub for large palm oil companies that spur economic growth in Southeast Asia, it is simultaneously an affected party of oil palm plantations expansion over peatlands in the form of haze. While deforestation for agricultural purposes is a major environmental problem, global demand for palm oil remains high, leaving continued but more sustainable production as a viable option for mitigation of environmental damage. However, targeting unsustainable practices in palm oil trade is complicated due to long and complex supply chains spanning a global market. Risk of actions that lead to deforestation exist at several levels in the supply chain, making implementation of sustainability standards difficult to achieve. To address this problem, Asst Prof Lee is addressing the risk of events leading to deforestation at two different levels of the supply chain, smallholders and traders.
First, the study will look at smallholders, who will be grouped based on socioeconomic characteristics using statistical cluster analysis. This way, the group/groups most likely to cultivate in sensitive ecosystems (unsustainable practice) can be identified. Second, the role of palm oil traders and their influence down the production chain will be evaluated through interviews with decision-makers in major palm oil trading companies as well as statistics on palm oil trade volumes. The outputs of this study will contribute towards identifying where deforestation risks are introduced along the palm oil supply chain and where opportunities for intervention can take place to mitigate these risks.
Text by Anna Lagerström based on information from Janice Lee