The Star Says

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Working to improve the palm oil industry

ON Wednesday, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board launched a worldwide competition that offers a US$1mil (RM4.5mil) grand prize in addition to cash prizes totalling US$130,000 (RM585,000).

The objective is to find innovative machines that can improve how work gets done in oil palm plantations.

At the event, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said the winning inventions should be practical and cost-effective so that there would be less reliance on labour-intensive methods when harvesting, collecting and handling oil palm fruits.

“If you look now, some are still using manual tools. So we want the new tools to be user-friendly,” he said.

He added that the Government wanted to improve worker productivity in the industry.

On Friday, Mah told reporters that by the end of 2019, it would be mandatory for local companies to comply with the Malaysian Sus­tainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme, which requires oil palm growers and palm oil processors to meet certain sustainability standards.

This is a move towards branding Malaysian palm oil as sustainably produced and safe.

“We know that certification takes time but we need people to start getting on board,” said Mah during the press conference.

“The ministry will be getting the financial incentives ready in June to help the industry with the certification process.”

The competition and the certification scheme are key moves by Malaysia to address the two biggest challenges faced by our palm oil industry: the need to raise productivity and the allegations that the industry harms wildlife, communities and the environment.

This year is the third time that the International Competition on Oil Palm Mechanisation has been organised, but the 2017 instalment is particularly meaningful because it was a century ago that oil palm was first planted here as a commercial crop.

There will be many other events to mark the centenary.

Indeed, there is much to celebrate considering how much the palm oil industry has grown since 1917.

It contributes between 5% and 6% of the country’s gross domestic product and is a major source of export earnings.

There is no doubt that the industry is a socioeconomic force in Malaysia.

It is important that the palm oil industry re­­mains competitive always and that means it must keep doing better in productivity and sustainability.

Boosting productivity matters because it is the best way to increase output without having to open up new plantations.

And that brings us to the issue of sustainability.

The Government and the industry have long been battling campaigns that accuse oil palm growers of practices that cause environmental and social damage to the country.

There is no shortage of government initiatives on these two fronts.

But such work can be undone or impeded when the black sheep in the industry refuse to change their ways.

The palm oil industry has done remarkably well to become what it is today. To ensure this good run continues, the players must show that they will never sacrifice planet for profit, and that they are always looking to do better.

Tags / Keywords: Government , Palm Oil , the star says , palm oil

More Articles

Filter by

Youths must learn to handle the unexpected

29 March 2017

THERE was a time when disruption was a sign of bad manners and impatience. Those with disruptive tendencies were often called troublemakers, upstarts, rebels, mavericks or renegades. And back then, they were likely to be pushed to the sidelines.

Let’s take advantage of VSP initiative

26 March 2017

THERE are millions of apps that we can download to our smartphones. Some are trivial, banal or downright useless.

Push for development that puts society’s interests first

22 March 2017

THE latest amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act are few – all the changes fit on a single page of the Government Gazette – but they may ultimately reshape development in Malaysia.

Act in concert when helping the homeless

19 March 2017

IT is cynical to believe, as poet T.S. Eliot did, that people with good intentions are responsible for most of the evil in this world. Or that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Strengthen weak link in fight against child sex crimes

15 March 2017

THE fight against child sexual crimes in Malaysia is gaining momentum. Well, that may be something of an understatement considering that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself has made it clear that the Government will go all out to stop these heinous crimes.

Stay focused on the big picture

12 March 2017

IT IS very difficult to stay focused on the big picture. That often requires us to set aside self-interest, at least in the short term. How many people are willing to do that based on the promise that we will all benefit somewhere down the road?

Take all measures necessary in view of threat

8 March 2017

THE diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea has escalated to a previously unthinkable level with Pyongyang’s move to ban all Malaysian embassy staff from leaving the country, effectively holding them hostage.

A new epoch in ties with Saudi Arabia

5 March 2017

IN the heavily nuanced arena of diplomacy and international relations, where even a small gesture may have a huge impact, a lot can be accomplished in a short period of time.

Resolve high-profile graft cases swiftly TheStar SAYS

1 March 2017

FOUR men detained for alleged bribery were released unconditionally on Monday by a court in Ipoh. It’s not the first time that suspects have been released during investigations into corruption cases.

Help these Mat Basikals get back on track

22 February 2017

IT was a tragic morning last Saturday when eight teenage cyclists were killed and eight others were badly injured after a car ploughed into them along Jalan Lingkaran Dalam in Johor Baru at 3.30am.

  • Page 1 of 3

Go to page:


Recent Posts

More Columnists