Palm oil centre in advance stage


  • Business
  • Wednesday, 23 Apr 2003

BY HANIM ADNAN

THE proposed Business and Econo-mic Intelligence Centre (BEIC) for the palm oil industry is already at an advanced stage of establishment, according to Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) chairman Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. 

He said the foundation for the setting up of this critical “watch tower” centre had been identified, with presentations made to the National Economic Action Council (NEAC). 

“I have also suggested that the BEIC be put under the aegis of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research given the latter's excellent track record (in research work),” Khalid said at the MPOA's 4th AGM in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. 

Essentially, the proposed BEIC would manage four core issues pertaining to the industry – industry statistics, national and international statistics, market intelligence and geographical, including geo-political, issues. 

Significantly, the proposed centre would be responsible for providing intelligence through the creation of a comprehensive database related to the palm oil industry, and research that provides analysis of emerging trends. 

Khalid Ibrahim

“The underlying purpose is to assist planning and decision-making so as to better position the local palm oil industry in an increasingly challenging and complex environment,” Khalid said.  

Established in 1999, the MPOA was the result of the merger of three large plantation organisations – the Rubber Growers Association, the United Planting Association of Malaysia and the Malaysian Palm Oil Growers Council. 

”The MPOA continuously needs to re-evaluate the industry inside out, strengthen its knowledge base beyond the commodity that we produce as well as our understanding of the operations beyond the standard mechanics of production, to comprehend the entire process – cultivation, production, marketing and trading as well as the ultimate uses of the commodity produced,” Khalid said. 

He also pointed out that to continue with its professional work, the association must re-look at its funding mechanism.  

The two options as highlighted in the previous AGM were focusing on efforts towards a one-time government grant sufficient to generate an income stream to meet operational expenses or increasing the membership subscription fee. 

Khalid, who is also Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd's group chief executive, said: “Being in commodities, we should never make the mistake of being lulled into complacency.” 

He cited challenges like cost competitiveness, unfair trade practices, real global concerns such as loss of forest and food safety, self-styled champions of soils and streams, and misperceptions about palm oil as an excellent and nutritiously sound edible oil, never seem to go away. 

“The day is never done, with erosion of competitiveness from productivity impasses and rising costs,” Khalid added. 

He said productivity exhortations lifted the national oil extraction rate (OER) to nearly 20% but further improvements could be increasingly more difficult and call for the redoubling of efforts.  

He added the future of the industry, at least for the short term, is growing based on the record crude palm oil (CPO) futures trading at the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange Bhd.  

Last year, turnover of CPO futures stood at 909,073 lots, represented an underlying notional amount of 22.73 million tonnes of CPO, an increase of nearly 90% from a year ago.  

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