Demand for conventional feed ingredients (proteins of animal origin) by humans and food industries have resulted in increasing popularity and importance of agro-industrial by-products in recent years. The need for agriculture-led economic transformation as a major solution to impoverished regions like Africa cannot be overemphasized. However, stiff competition can exist between human and livestock industries over feed ingredients such as cereal grains and maize. This issue is further compounded by poor production and low supply due to poor weather or drought conditions. In addition, there may be other factors such as import restrictions that result in the use of conventional feed ingredients as uneconomical. Hence, there is a need for economical ingredients such as palm kernel cake.
Palm kernel cake / Palm kernel meal
Palm kernel cake, also known as palm kernel meal, is the residual by-product of the crushing process of palm kernel oil. It is a brown semi-solid under ambient temperatures and mainly produced by large palm oil plantations countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia. There are several advantages of palm kernel cake as an animal feed. Firstly, palm kernel cake is easily available in high quantities due to industrial demand on palm kernel oil. Secondly, it provides considerably high protein and energy. Its crude protein content varies from 12 to 23% depending on the methods of production used, namely the conventional mechanical screw press or the costly solvent (typically hexane) extraction. Lastly, palm kernel cake has no competitive applications presently in other industries apart from food. However, palm kernel cake does have some limitations such as high fibre content (13%), low metabolizable energy value for poultry and presence of B-Mannan (i.e. lower the animal feed conversion ratio). This has been solved by intensive research. One solution is to manage a proper balance of dietary ingredient for increased tolerance in high intake of palm kernel cake by animals. Another proposed solution is to add enzymes into animal diets to release digestible sugars for absorption and metabolism.
Statistics of palm kernel cake usage compared to conventional feed ingredients
The development and utilization of palm kernel cake are without a doubt for good causes and fit into the concept of economical and sustainable movement. However, there are still some issues that need to be looked at and subsequently improved before it becomes a reality. One issue is the awareness of end users like farmers of the existence of palm kernel cake as a feed ingredient. Another issue is the continual debate of palm products as being more destructive towards the environment rather than being theoretically environmentally friendly. It is important to address human greed over the coveted palm oil industry. At the current deforestation rate, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that 98% of rainforests in major producer Indonesia will be destroyed by 2022. Many such deforestation actions are often illegal and unreported. Sinar Mas, for example, breached Indonesian law by clearing forests for palm oil plantations without carrying out Environmental Impact Assessments.
By: Wen Hao
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