Up until the 1940s and 1950s banana tree plantations populated the scenery of the Central Pacific Coastline of Costa Rica, but now palm tree plantations are paramount.
At around the middle of last century, the United Fruit Company began experiencing a large problem with its “Big Mike,” or “Gros Michel,” bananas. These were the kinds of bananas that your grandparents grew up on, and they have all but disappeared from modern western banana plantations. A pestilence known as Panama Disease, which was caused by the spreading of a fungus, began sweeping the coastlines of Central America, thus wiping out the once popular fruit.
In the Gros Michel’s place, and now years later, the giant banana plantations are populated by Palm Trees. Palm oil has become one of the most important commodities for a large variety of products from butter replacements and cosmetics to biodiesel. It has also has sparked wide debates as to its health value in terms of nutrition, and it has caused some controversy in South East Asia in regards to deforestation.
Up and down the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica it is now a valuable cash crop, and many of the areas that you might pass while travelling from places like Puntarenas and Jaco to Quepos will be outlined with the palm tree plantations. The plantations began springing up when the United Fruit Company started to lose its main cash crop of bananas to Panama disease. The Untied Fruit Company then pioneered the development of the palm oil industry in Costa Rica, and now Costa Rica is currently ranked 13th in the world in regards to exports of palm oil. The total number of palm oil exports in 2014 totalled 270,000,000 kilograms.
Palm oil is the most efficient crop oil in the world. One hectare of Palm plantations produce ten times more oil than other oil producing crops. Palm oil is important in fighting vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries, because it has high numbers of the mineral.