Video: The Basics of Palm Oil in Honduras

Endless palms near Progresso, Honduras (From Google Maps)
Endless palms near Progreso, Honduras (From Google Maps)

Landing at Honduras’ San Pedro Sula International Airport treats the passenger to a vista of nearly endless plantations of densely planted palm trees.  Specifically these palms are elaeis guineensis – the most common variety of palm grown for its oil, and a booming cash crop, not only here, but especially in Southeast Asia.

TriplePundit readers are acutely aware that the growth in palm oil plantations is among the most serious causes of deforestation in tropical regions, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia where Phil Covington recently looked into the problem.

Honduras is a minor, but growing player in the palm oil scene. Fortunately, most of Honduras’ new palm oil plantations are replacing other crops, especially bananas, rather than virgin forest.   Nonetheless, the rapid growth in this crop – used as an ingredient in everything from soap to margarine to biodiesel – presents numerous social and environmental challenges.  Among these are worker safety, pesticide use, agricultural waste, economic development and indeed pressure to expand into high value natural areas.

I’ve just returned from a brief trip to Honduras to visit the first Rainforest Alliance certified palm oil cooperative –Hondupalma.  I’ll be getting into the details of how Hondupalma works (it’s an interesting co-op of over 500 families) over the course of the next week or two.  But first, I thought a brief introduction to the actual process of producing palm oil would be interesting.

I shot some video while I was there.   Take a look after the jump…

Note: Travel to Honduras was provided by Rainforest Alliance.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.