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Palm oil Production

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Oil palm harvesting in South America

Palm Oil Production

Palm Estates and Smallholders

The capability to establish and manage agro‑industrial plantations is deeply rooted in HVA's history. Its experience record dates back to the 1920's, when the company started its large plantations of oil palm, coconut, rubber, tea, sugar cane and sisal in Indonesia.

During the last two decades, HVA has become increasingly involved in projects related with vegetable oils in various countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, thus gaining vast experience in this field through the application of up‑to‑date know how and technology.

Some of these projects are highlighted below.

Oil Palm Estates


From 1983 to 1992, a team of HVA experts has provided technical assistance to AGROINRA in Nicaragua for the establishment of two oil palm cooperatives at "Cukra Hill" and "El Castillo", comprising 2,500 ha oil palm each.


Since 1986 HVA experts have been engaged in an oil palm research project at the DENPASA estate near Belém in Brazil to trace the agent of the spear-rot disease and to try to control this disease, endemic in Central and South America. Identical research was carried out for a regional oil palm project in Ecuador for account of the Ministry of Agriculture of Ecuador.


From 1969 to 1985, HVA was co-owner and managing agent of the Victoria oil palm estate (1,650 ha) in Surinam. The company was also entrusted with the implementation and management of the Phedra Oil Palm Project (875 ha) and a smallholders scheme (200 ha), located adjacent to the Victoria estate. The outgrowers project not only covered land clearing and plantation, but also included the full organizational set‑up, including infrastructure and credit schemes.


From 1973 to 1984, HVA was co-owner and managing agent of the DENPASA (Dendę do Pará SA) oil palm plantation in Benevidos, Pará State, Brazil. The project consisted of implementation and management of an oil palm complex with an own area of 5,100 ha and an outgrowers' area of approximately 2,500 ha. Actual production in this stage amounted to 20,000 tonnes of palm‑oil, processed by two factories. During the entire period, three HVA-experts were permanently stationed at the estate.


In 1974, the Government of Surinam called on HVA to conduct a feasibility study for an oil palm project in East Surinam resulting in a recommendation for a 30 tonnes FFB/hr milling plant with a 5,000 ha plantation. Project implementation started in 1979 and HVA was invited to implement and manage this project and provide the necessary agricultural and technical services.

Oil Extraction Plants


In 1992 HVA-International conducted a study for the improvement of the operations efficiency with respect to an oil seed plant in south-east Bolivia.


From 1990 to 1993, HVA undertook the design, engineering and supervision on construction of 10 mini palmoil mills (so-called village mills) in the member states of the Mano River Union. Prerequisites were the use of locally available material and construction facilities. A base line survey had been conducted to define the needs and capacities of such a mill. Training programmes for the local population, and extension services constituted essential elements. The project included furthermore an institutional component. During the two-year project implementation period, four experts of HVA and its local partner were permanently stationed abroad.


From 1983 to 1992 a team of HVA experts has been providing technical assistance to AGROINRA in Nicaragua for the construction of palm‑oil extraction plants at the palm‑oil cooperatives of "Cukra Hill" and "El Castillo".


From 1983 to 1987, the HVA provided technical assistance services to the 6,000 ha Palmas del Espino oil palm estate at Mehiza in Peru. The activities included preparation of tender specifications, evaluation of bids and supervision during construction on a pal moil mill with a capacity of 20 tonnes FFB/hr in the first phase, and a final capacity of 40 tonnes/hr. Until 1989 technical assistance has been provided to the estate.


In 1975, HVA started a 10-year involvement in Bajo Aguán Palm Oil Mills in Honduras, financed by the Government of The Netherlands. The assignment started with a feasibility study which resulted in the construction of two milling plants of 15 tonnes FFB/hr each and another of 20 tonnes FFB/hr. HVA services were related to: the preparation of tender documents, tender evaluation and assistance in contract negotiations. Construction and commissioning were also supervised by HVA.


In 1970, HVA embarked on the design of a palmoil mill, for the Victoria estate in Surinam, then under development. The palmoil mill came into operation in 1974 and was gradually extended in line with the requirements of the estate.

Edible Oil Processing Plants


In 1986, a study was carried out for AGROINRA to investigate the situation of the refining capacity of edible oils in Nicaragua. The study resulted in a plan for the establishment of a fractionation plant for palm oil and an extension of one of the existing refineries.


In 1979, HVA prepared a study on palm oil refining, fractionation and marketing of palm olein for cooking oil for the Government of Indonesia. This study resulted in the start of palm‑oil fractionation and the establishment of the first fractionation plant in Sumatra. For the marketing of the stearin part of the fractionated oil a study was carried out in the Middle and Far East to investigate the possibilities of selling stearin as a raw material for ghee production.


In 1975 the Government of Surinam invited HVA to carry out a study on the processing of crude palm oil into cooking oil, shortening, margarine, and soap. In cooperation with EBE in West Germany, the engineering department of HVA developed a continuous physical refinery with a capacity of 1 t/hr. The refined oil was fractionated with a dry system. The automation of the processing units was adapted to the level of competence of the operators. The oil factory included a unit for the blowing of PE bottles. The refinery started in 1977 and was extended in 1985 with a double fractionation unit, which increased the olein fraction to 80% of the palm oil input. The hard stearin was used as a fuel for the steam boiler.

General Studies

Various studies were carried out for different clients on oil palm projects in countries like Cameroon, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania, in addition to similar studies in Nigeria, Ghana, Bolivia and Indonesia.

In 1999 HVA International evaluated the agricultural, technical and processing aspects of 120,000 ha of oil palm estates and corresponding factories in Sumatra, Indonesia. In connection with the privatisation of the Government owned estates, the present situation was evaluated and future production plans were made.

In many studies emphasis was put on the marketing of palm oil and its derivatives such as refined oil, stearin and fatty acids, both for local and export markets.

In the second half of 1995, HVA was charged by the Islamic Development Bank with the evaluation of a palm oil processing factory in Gabon, in view of its rehabilitation, modernisation and extension.

In 1993 a study was completed on the long-term requirements of rubber and oil palm processing facilities in Indonesia financed by a loan from the World Bank. On the basis of the present situation for the future rehabilitation and expansion of the industry in Indonesia a plan was formulated. This study focused on the agricultural, industrial, financial and marketing aspects of the sector.

In 1993 a study commissioned by the Commission of the European Communities was conducted to evaluate oil palm activities in Ghana. These activities comprised oil palm estates, smallholders, and outgrowers as well as oil palm processing facilities.

Also 1993, a mid-term review was carried out about of the rehabilitation and expansion of oil palm production and palm oil processing in southern Nigeria. The Oil Palm Belt Rural Development Programme has five main components: establishment of 6,500 ha of oil palm in a nucleus and for smallholders, rehabilitation of five oil palm companies, including their smallholders and outgrowers schemes, training, and the implementation of micro projects.

New palm oil technologies applied by HVA are an improvement of the fractionation technique for the production of high volume olein for cooking oil and the research into the manufacture of diesel fuel substitutes from the hard stearing part of the palm‑oil. This technology may prove to be of particular interest for countries without own crude mineral oil resources.

Traditionally, HVA engineers are particularly active in applying appropriate new technologies for the palm oil industry in developing countries. The principle of small mobile units within the concept of mini mills for the extraction of palm oil is characteristic of the HVA approach to boost edible oil production in remote areas.

These projects, combined with HVA's in‑depth knowledge of different processing techniques for other vegetable oils and of marketing of downstream products, strengthened HVA's ability to cope with all problems related to planning, implementation and successful management of processing projects for vegetable oils through technical assistance contracts.


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For More Information Contact:

HVA International
Paalbergweg 30, 1105 BV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
P.O. Box 12204, 1100 AE Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tel: +31 20 7372164


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Last modified: June 25, 2012