Palm oil cultivation in Meghalaya: a health and environmental perspective


  • Markordor Lyngdoh Department of Community Medicine, NEIGRIHMS, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
  • Daiahunlang Lyngdoh Department of Environmental Science, Shillong, Meghalaya,India
  • Shanthosh P. Sundaram Department of Community Medicine, NEIGRIHMS, Shillong, Meghalaya, India



Palm oil, Health impact, Environmental impact, Meghalaya


Palm oil cultivation has long been an ongoing controversy in regards to the threat that it poses to the environment. Countries like Indonesia and Malaysia account for the largest share of the world’s palm oil production. The economic benefit that this has bring to these two nations is enormous. However, this is not without consequences. Forests have been destroyed and raging forest fires have claimed the lives of many people. Air and water pollution have threatened the lives of many living beings especially endangered species. Palm oil cultivation also cause occupational health hazards to its many workers. The central government is appealing to many states including Meghalaya to take up palm oil cultivation in order to make the country self-reliant. Many environmentalists are opposed to this move and with good reason. It is therefore imperative to understand the perils of palm oil cultivation in a heavily forested state like Meghalaya not only to the environment but also the health of its citizens as a whole.


Murphy DJ, Goggin K, Paterson RRM. Oil palm in the 2020s and beyond: challenges and solutions. CABI Agriculture and Bioscience. 2021;2(1):1-22.

Statista. Global production volume palm oil. 2018. Available at: 613471/ palm-oil-production-volume-worldwide. Accessed on 01 March 2023.

European Palm Oil Alliance. Palm oil consumption. 2018. Available at: https://www.palmoiland Accessed on 01 March 2023.

Khatun R, Reza MIH, Moniruzzaman M, Yaakob Z. Sustainable oil palm industry: The possibilities. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2017;76:608-19.

Asian Agri. The benefits of palm oil. 2018. Available at: tions/articles/the-benefits-of-palm-oil/#:~:text= The%20palm%20oil%20industry%20has,to%20own%20their%20own%20land. Accessed on 01 March 2023.

Henders S, Persson UM, Kastner T. Trading forests: land-use change and carbon emissions embodied in production and exports of forest-risk commodities. Env Res Lett. 2015;10(12):125012.

Koh LP, Wilcove DS. Is oil palm agriculture really destroying tropical biodiversity? Conservation Letters. 2008;1(2):60-4.

Betts RA. Offset of the potential carbon sink from boreal forestation by decreases in surface albedo. Nature. 2000;408(6809):187-90.

Shahputra MA, Zen Z. Positive and negative impacts of oil palm expansion in Indonesia and the prospect to achieve sustainable palm oil. In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science. 2018;122(1):012008.

Burkett-Cadena ND, Vittor AY. Deforestation and vector-borne disease: forest conversion favors important mosquito vectors of human pathogens. Basic Appl Ecol. 2018;26:101-10.

Morand S, Lajaunie C. Outbreaks of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases are associated with changes in forest cover and oil palm expansion at global scale. Front Vet Sci. 2021;8:230.

Pluess B, Mueller I, Levi D, King G, Smith TA, Lengeler C. Malaria--a major health problem within an oil palm plantation around Popondetta, Papua New Guinea. Malar J. 2009;8:56.

Mohd Ridzuan J, Aziah BD, Zahiruddin WM. Work Environment-Related Risk Factors for Leptospirosis among Plantation Workers in Tropical Countries: Evidence from Malaysia. Int J Occup Environ Med. 2016;7(3):156-63.

Krah CK. The prevalence of onchocerciasis and other parasitic infestations on an oil palm plantation in Ghana. Tropical Doctor. 2000;30(3):143-6.

Edivaldo T, Rosell S. Slash-and-burn agriculture in southern Brazil: characteristics, food production and prospects. Scottish Geographical J. 2020;136(1-4):176-94.

Tang KHD, Yap PS. A Systematic Review of Slash-and-Burn Agriculture as an Obstacle to Future-Proofing Climate Change. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Climate Change. 2020;4:1.

Schlanger Z. The global demand or palm oil is driving the fires in Indonesia. Quartz. 2019. Available at: Accessed on 01 March 2023.

World Bank. The cost of fire: an economic analysis of Indonesia’s 2015 fire crisis. 2015. Available at: en/643781465442350 600/Indonesia-forest-fire-notes.pdf. Accessed on 01 March 2023.

Son JY, Bell ML, Lee JT. Survival analysis of long-term exposure to different sizes of airborne particulate matter and risk of infant mortality using a birth cohort in Seoul, Korea. Env Health Perspectives. 2011;119(5):725-30.

Rees N. Danger in the air. New York: United National Children’s Fund. 2017. Available at: Air.pdf. Accessed on 01 March 2023.

Goodman LK, Mulik K. Clearing the Air Palm Oil, Peat Destruction, and Air Pollution. Union of Concerned Scientists. 2015. Available at: Accessed on 01 March 2023.

Poh PE, Yong WJ, Chong MF. Palm oil mill effluent (POME) characteristic in high crop season and the applicability of high-rate anaerobic bioreactors for the treatment of POME. Industrial Eng Chem Res. 2010;49(22):11732-40.

Hadiyanto MC, Soetrisnanto D, Christwardhana M. Phytoremediations of palm oil mill effluent (POME) by using aquatic plants and microalgae for biomass production. J Env Sci Technol. 2013;6(2):79-90.

Kamyab H, Chelliapan S, Din MFM, Rezania S, Khademi T, Kumar A. Palm oil mill effluent as an environmental pollutant. Palm Oil. 2018;13:13-28.

Osman NA, Ujang FA, Roslan AM, Ibrahim MF, Hassan MA. The effect of palm oil mill effluent final discharge on the characteristics of Pennisetum purpureum. Scientific Rep. 2020;10(1):1-10.

World Wide Fund. Sustainable Agriculture: Palm Oil. Available at: industries/palm-oil#:~:text=Soil%20and%20water% 20pollution,affects%20downstream%20biodiversity%20and%20people. Accessed on 01 March 2023.

Merten J, Röll A, Guillaume T, Meijide A, Tarigan S, Agusta H, et al. Water scarcity and oil palm expansion: social views and environmental processes. Ecol Soc. 2016;21(2).

Jusoff K, Zainuddin MF. Musculoskeletal disorders in oil palm fruit bunches harvesting in Malaysia. J Env Sci Eng. 2009;3(7):64.

Kadandale S, Marten R, Smith R. The palm oil industry and noncommunicable diseases. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2019;97(2):118.

Hossain F, Ali O, D'Souza UJ, Naing DK. Effects of pesticide use on semen quality among farmers in rural areas of Sabah, Malaysia. J Occup Health. 2010;52(6):353-60.

Myzabella N, Fritschi L, Merdith N, El-Zaemey S, Chih H, Reid A. Occupational Health and Safety in the Palm Oil Industry: A Systematic Review. Int J Occup Environ Med. 2019;10(4):159-173.

Nasir NSM, Tamrin SBM, Subramanian K, Shukoor NS, Zolkifli N, Ng GS, et al. Association of workplace stressors with salivary alpha-amylase activity levels among fresh fruit bunch cutters in Selangor. Iranian J Public Health. 2016;45(1):68-76.




How to Cite

Lyngdoh, M., Lyngdoh, D., & Sundaram, S. P. (2023). Palm oil cultivation in Meghalaya: a health and environmental perspective. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 10(6), 2296–2300.