Firm to overhaul palm oil mill to boost production

KUCHING: Rmbunan Sawit Bhd will carry out a major overhaul to its existing aging palm oil mill, which has become less productive.

Chairman Bong Wei Leong said the mill would be refurbished to improve overall throughput and oil extraction efficiency.

The upgrading work would be carried out on commissioning of the group’s new environmental friendly palm oil mill in MIri expected in third quarter of 2015.

Bong said the crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel produced by the existing mill fell by 34% and 35% respectively to 43,937 tonnes and 10,751 tonnes last year from 2013’s.

“To combat the mill aging factor, a major overhaul in respective areas will be performed in 2015 following the operation of the group’s new palm oil mill,” he added in the company’s newly released 2014 annual report.

Bong said the group’s oil palm planted area had increased to 57,182ha from 54,659ha in 2013 while the production area expanded by 2,255ha to 39,122ha at end-2014.

However, the production of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) not only did not increase in tandem but plunged to 436,584 tonnes last year from 479,480 tonnes in 2013.

Bong said the drop in FFB production was due to shortage of harvestors and unfavourable weather condition.

He said to encounter the ever-rising production costs, the group’s management team was actively exploring feasible initiatives to raise efficiency and productivity throughout its operations.

“With the introduction of many good agricultural and management practices in the plantation field, such as enhanced fertiliser application technique, timely road maintenance and gravelling, complete harvesting rounds, standard pruning, improved worked productivity and frequent review of operation, can help to maintain high operation standard and efficiency,” he added.

Bong said as more of the group’s palm trees reached maturity, FFB yield would improve going forward.

“Despite our young plantation profile, we are looking at possible alternatives for our plantations, such as replanting to ensure our growth.”

He said the group had enforced best agricultural practices and was keeping close to new researches and deverlopment on oil palm trees.

“A recent study by Universiti Sains Malaysia reveals that palm trees upon reaching 25 years when their oil extraction diminishes can be converted to other means of products using sap from the palm tree trunk.

“This breakthrough gives us the alternative to further tap our existing palm trees after their prime and fully utilising them to the fullest and yet being ecology friendly,” said Bong.

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