WASHINGTON, April 1 The World Bank on Friday
lifted an 18-month global moratorium on lending for new palm
oil investments, saying it had endorsed a strategy that would
focus on supporting small farmers that dominate the sector.
The poverty-fighting institution suspended new investments
in the palm oil sector in September 2009 to review its lending
practices and to conduct global consultations in the $30
"With the adoption of the new Framework and Strategy, (the
World Bank) is now lifting that suspension," it said in a
Palm oil is produced by and employs over 6 million rural
poor around the globe. Some 70 percent of palm oil production
is used as staple cooking oil by the poor in Asia and Africa.
Although the World Bank is a small player in the palm oil
sector, having invested $132 million in projects in Asia,
Central America, Ukraine and West Africa, it said its new
effort would seek to boost production on degraded plantations
and boost productivity.
"This will take place by helping to strengthen smallholder
producer organizations, promoting their access to finance and
markets, improving their agronomy practices and productivity,
and fostering fair contractual arrangements with larger
companies," the bank said.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Dale Hudson)