The rise in oil prices and the worldwide boom in biocombustibles has created more demand for land in Guatemala.
The new owners plan to grow African palm trees to produce vegetable oil and biodiesel.
Land scarcity has caused businessmen to extend the agricultural limits into the regions of Ixcán, Quiché, the south of Pëtén, the valley of Polochic, Izabal, and a strip of land across the nation's northern region.
Palm tree cultivation has increased from 65,000 hectares to about 100,000.
Spurred by demand for biofuels the palm oil boom continues, with prices directly linked to oil prices.
Although in the past six years the smiles of palm oil producers have become increasingly large, along with investments to increase both the cultivated areas and productivity, the prices they receive for the commoditie are subject to the variability of industrialized economies, and especially to changes in oil prices.
Producers are taking out loans in order to expand plantations and production of palm oil in Chiriqui.
The Corozo and Palmetto Cooperative (Copal), Baru district, province of Chiriqui, which owns about 1,250 acres, has obtained a loan of close to one million dollars in order to finance part of the extension of cultivated land.
In northern Honduras, good prices for palm oil have led to a growth of the crop at the expense of bananas.
In the last two years production has reported growth rates of 40%, reflecting the increase in the number of producers.
In the area there are currently some 20,000 producers, and according to grower Luciano Reyes the figure will rise as areas for the cultivation of bananas are being devoted to the cultivation of African palm. "Due to the situation being experienced by banana, many people are stopping growing it and are turning to sowing African palms."
Palm oil plantation areas in the country are increasing at an average rate of 8,000 hectares per year.
In an area of 90 hectares, farms are currently producing 140,000 metric tons of oil, of which 100,000 are exported to Mexico and Central America and the rest is consumed in the local market. In 2010, exports totaled $125.7 million.
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