In the last three-and-a-half decades Indonesia and Malaysia lost a combination of 3.5 million hectares of forest to palm oil plantations.
Globally, more people consume palm oil than soybean oil, and Indonesia is the largest producer of the stuff, churning out 31 million tonnes of palm oil in 2014. Malaysia and Indonesia together account for 85 percent of palm oil produced globally each year. Consumption of palm oil has risen steadily at seven percent per annum over the last 20 years.
The palm oil sector has added little real value to the Indonesian economy. The average contribution of estate crops, including oil palm and rubber, to GDP [gross domestic product] was only 2.2 percent per year. On the other hand, food production is the main source of rural employment and income, engaging two-thirds of the rural workforce, or some 61 million people. Oil palm production only occupies the eighth rank in rural employment, engaging some 1.4 million people.