Have you seen those unique African Palm Plantations between San Pedro Sula and Tela?
If you have traveled by land between San Pedro Sula and Tela, you cannot have missed those unique roadside African Palm plantations that appear so lush, orderly, even beautiful along the roadside. They stretch for miles and miles, and seem like a truly “green” crop. Unless you are a seasoned World Traveler who has visited Southeast Asia, you probably are clueless about these plantations! Certainly, I was when I first encountered them over two decades ago!
It turns out that these are African Palms, and they are not native to Central America. They were first introduced to Honduras by the Fruit Companies, and in a rare collaboration between the Tela Railroad Company, and the Standard Fruit Company, the plantations were set up by the first and the processing plant was set up by the latter.
As it turns out, the crop was a complete success, and several different government administrations have promoted and supported the growth of these plantations and processing plants, making Honduras an important World player when it comes to producing and exporting the product. The African Palms produce a greasy array of soft fruits that are ideal to produce vegetable oil, which in turn is used for all sorts of different foods that we regularly consume.
The climate and the terrain along the Caribbean Coast of Honduras has turned out to be ideal for the successful production of oil, and the plantations have inexorably expanded to the point they are encroaching National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. Of course there is a strong local lobby with the government to support the continued growth of the plantations; on the other side, environmentalists are alarmed and the destruction that is being caused by the uncontrolled expansion of the industry.
My purpose however is not to get caught up on the good and bad and of these African palm plantations; but rather to educate you as a traveler and help you understand and enjoy these beautiful plantations, that are truly unique in our part of the World.
So when you are traveling along the main road between San Pedro Sula and Tela, or making your landing approach to San Pedro Sula International Airport and see these extensive plantations, you now know that they are African Palm plantations and that they help produce the vegetable oil that you regularly consume at home in diverse products!