Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cash in them crops

Palm Oil - years ago, my mother invested money in some palm oil plantations in Malaysia. That investment has since been disposed and the money put into other higher-yielding investments. I wished she had held on to it because palm oil is turning out to be the type of cash crop that will make you rich beyond imagination.

With the price of crude oil reaching near stratospheric heights in the last couple of months, research and development into alternative fuels has gathered momemtum. One of these alternatives is biofuels, which comes from renewable sources such as palm oil. Malaysia is the largest producer of palm oil in the world today. It could have been an even larger volume producer had not Dr Mahathir cleared thousands of hectares of land that once produced palm oil to build his Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. Both places are now huge consumers of oil - to power the lights, the air-conditions, and all sorts of electrical and gas-guzzling gadgets and devices.

I remember visiting Putra and Cyber Jaya some 5 years ago. I was really shocked but at the same time, marvelled at how grand and how huge these places were. At the same time, I asked myself where they got the land from. Of course, Malaysia is a big country. What I mean is, what was the land that Putrajaya and Cyberjaya is now sitting on used for previously? Rubber plantations? Palm Oil plantations? I am sure of one thing. It was previously not a nature reserve, nor residential area, nor rainforest, nor mountain nor river. It was just too close to the Malaysian Capital, Kuala Lumpur, to be any of these. Probably it's previous occupants where the rubber trees but more likely, the palm oil plantatations. If the latter, the Malaysia will have to kick itself in the royal behind to have gotten rid of crops that will generate cash at a rate unimaginable previously.

My point is, before anyone goes about destroying any of its natural and man-made resources, it should think very very carefully. Otherwise, they may just wake up one day to regret the amount of money they have burnt away.

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