SANDAKAN: The oil palm industry will continue to be important to the Malaysian and Sabah economies, as the industry is projected to contribute an estimated RM200bil to Malaysia's export value by 2020, about three times the current value.Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said this was expected to be achieved by way of replacing aging oil palm trees with higher yielding oil palm fruits, improving the oil extraction rate, mechanisation in plantations to raise productivity and the promotion of downstream value-added products.
"Sabah is Malaysia's main crude palm oil producing state with 1.44 million hectares planted with the crop. In terms of yield, Sabah's plantations produce an average of 20.4 tonnes of fresh fruit bunches per hectare, compared with 19 tonnes in Peninsular Malaysia and 16.6 tonnes in Sarawak," he said at the opening of the 5th Palmex Malaysia here today.
The Palmex exhibition at the Sandakan Community Hall showcases the participation of 38 companies from Malaysia and other countries including Germany, Singapore, China, the United States and India.
Musa also said to encourage the development of downstream processing activities, the Sabah Government had embarked on creating palm oil industrial clusters, one each in Sandakan and in Lahad Datu.
He said said facility in Lahad Datu, covering 1,780 hectares, is being developed in three phases, with land still available for potential investors.
The chief minister said the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu was developed under the industrial clustering concept that not only caters to the downstream sector but also related to support industries such as logistics and transportation, fertilizer production and even facilities for small and medium industries.
"POIC Lahad Datu is equipped with modern infrastructures including dual-carriage roads, drainage, electricity and water supply, telecommunications and suitable jetties. "The POIC Sandakan while cover 1,120 hectares with work focused through two phases," he said.
Musa said the both industrial clusters are proof of the government's commitment in supporting downstream industries and that the state looks forward to seeing positive response to these facilities through suitable investments.- Bernama