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Why Kratom Farming Disrupting The Palm Oil Industry Is A Good Thing

Jemi Fischbach

Throughout Southeast Asia, as the land is rich and climate ideal, valuable plant species can thrive. These conditions have attracted the eyes of large industries around the world, primarily timber and oil palm. Oil palm plantations are spreading like wildfire throughout these parts, wiping out vast portions of rainforest in their wake. Dense, biodiverse jungles are sacrificed to create monoculture plantations that destroy the communities and wildlife populations in the areas.

Kratom farming is also increasing in these areas, but its environmental impact is much less destructive and can benefit the forests where it is planted. Some people believe that Kratom farming could be the key to help reverse some of the detrimental effects caused by oil palm plantations.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is used in thousands of food products around the globe. Many processed food items include palm oil, and it is estimated that 17 pounds per person are consumed each year. This demand is what continues to drive the spreading of new plantations.

As palm oil has become a staple ingredient in health and beauty products, various cooking recipes, and packaged food, the crops are now seen as one of the most valuable globally. Unfortunately, for this demand to be met, ancient ecosystems are eliminated.

Identifying The Issue

The issue with oil palm plantations is their resource requirements. For these plantations to adequately meet demand, they must starve the land of natural resources, including water and soil. As demand continues to increase, wild farming techniques that preserve the ground are unable to keep up. Industrial farming methods that require vast land areas are becoming necessary, but unfortunately, the land in question is already home to thousands, if not millions of plant and animal species.

Often people do not realize the importance of rainforests and their role in combating climate change. As these jungles are home to carbon-consuming plant species, they help lower atmospheric carbon, which is a primary concern among environmentalists. Since they are also home to rare and endangered species like the Sumatran Tiger and orangutan, wiping out these forests could render many species extinct.

Unfortunately, large companies only see profits, and they are quick to ignore the many indigenous communities that also dot the landscape. As this land is their home and has been for generations, the spread of mono-crop plantations drives them to relocate, and in some cases, many of them do not survive these invasive operations.


Kratom, a substance refined from the mitragyna speciosa tree leaves, grows throughout Southeast Asia, often in proximity to oil palm trees. For hundreds of years, indigenous populations throughout these areas have been using the leaves to relieve minor aches and pains, heighten focus, and reduce stress. These accounts have triggered further research by Westerners looking to find out more about the substance. The substance is sold for educational purposes in capsule, powder, and extract forms.

When the plant is harvested, only leaves at an ideal level of maturation are plucked, while the remainder of the tree remains, continuing to grow, helping the land prosper. Often the trees grow wildly throughout the jungle, or small family-run crops are planted. These two methods of farming Kratom could potentially help curb the effects of oil palm plantations.

How The Crops Are Competing

Companies that aim to plant mono-crop plantations in Southeast Asia will promise the communities vast sums of money in exchange for the land. Unfortunately, these promises are often not fulfilled, but many of the communities agree as the offers are so alluring. Kratom farms, on the other hand, are now posing as competition to these industries because they can also bring in cash for these communities and often more.

As Kratom farming is both ethical and sustainable, the communities do not have to worry about their resources being drained or compensation not being given. Kratom businesses will often sign fair trade agreements with these communities, promising that they will receive generous payment and that their land will remain healthy and profitable for many more generations.

3 Essential Differences Between Kratom & Oil Palm Crops

1. Support For Indigenous Communities

When large corporations plant monoculture oil palm crops, they will often wipe out entire land portions, leaving indigenous communities that live off the land to relocate. Relocation efforts are rarely successful, and many of the communities are driven to starvation and poverty. Kratom farming, in contrast, ensures these communities can sustain their current life while also gaining more income from the crops.

2. Preservation Of Wildlife

As oil palm crops require rainforest to be removed before planting, many animals’ natural habitats are removed. As these animals are responsible for fertilizing the land and supporting biodiversity, when their habitats are removed, there is a low chance the ecosystems will replenish. Kratom, planted wildly or in backyard farms, helps to keep these habitats intact and thriving. As the trees are never wholly removed, there is no risk of wildlife habitats being ruined.

3. Land Health

The soil in the rainforests is exceptionally nutrient-dense, but when the plants are removed to plant oil palm trees, the soil’s nutrients are sucked dry. As there are no plants or animals to replenish the nutrients, the land can be left barren after being harvested. Kratom crops thrive among the other plant species and do not require invasive farming techniques, which means the soil can naturally replenish itself.

Always Purchase Ethical Kratom

As a Kratom enthusiast, researcher, or educator, you can help support sustainable farming by ensuring the products you buy are ethically sourced. Always check with the supplier about the source and find out how they benefit the communities where it is farmed. These practices are the key to helping preserve the rainforests of Southeast Asia.

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