President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had decided to ban the import of palm oil with immediate effect as the consumption of crude palm oil has adverse effects on public health. Experts in medical field and dieticians have repeatedly pointed out that the consumption of food processed using crude palm oil is a major pathogen.
However, standard palm oil varieties are used in the production of biscuits, confectionery and some bakery products.
The variant bearing harmonized system code 1511.90.10 is an example. It is commonly known as Palm Stearin. There is no prohibition to the importation of this variety for use in the production of relevant food items.
After the current government’s coming into power, the importation of Ethanol, which had been severely criticized in the recent past, was completely halted. But Ethanol is allowed to be imported for surgical purposes. The same goes for the permission to import palm stearin.
Research has revealed that oil palm cultivation can lead to long-term adverse environmental effects, such as depletion of water resources and soil infertility. Therefore, about six months ago, after the current government’s arrival to power, the President instructed to stop the cultivation of oil palm trees. The existing Oil Palm cultivation is planned to be phased out at a rate of 10% at a time and those lands are planned to be replaced with rubber or other eco-friendly cultivation.