Firm recovers oil palm land

A filepic of an oil palm estate near Miri.Sarawak Plantation has 1,855ha under Native Customary Rights scheme along Miri-Bintulu road.

KUCHING: Sarawak Plantation Bhd group has managed to take back more than 1,000ha of oil palm plantation in central Sarawak after its disputes with landowners were resolved last year.

Chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi, who described the dispute settlement as a “remarkable milestone” for the company, said the recovered areas were currently undergoing rehabilitation and replanting.

He said the group had been facing on-going disputes and encumbrances affecting over 8,000ha.According to the company’s filings with Bursa Malaysia, the disputes also included with the Penans over oil palm estates in Miri Division in the northern region.

Abdul Hamed said the group would raise its land bank size by 7% upon acquiring a plantation company which owns 3,050ha in Mukah region in central Sarawak.

A sales and purchase agreement with the company concerned was signed last August,and he expects the deal to be concluded by next month.

He said the proposed acquisition would enable the group to increase fresh fruit bunches production in years to come and raise the utilisation rate and throughput of its Mukah palm oil mill.

Sarawak Plantation group has a total land bank of 43,128ha, of which 1,855ha is under Native Customary Rights scheme in Suai, along Miri-Bintulu Road.Via wholly-owned subsidiary Sarawak Plantation Agriculture Development Sdn Bhd, the group owns 16 oil palm estates with total planted area of 31,861ha as at end-2015. It also owns and operates two palm oil mills.

“We strongly believe that growth through the expansion of our land bank is crucial and will bring future benefits to the group. Thus, we continuously source for expansion opportunities,” added Abdul Hamed in the company’s 2015 annual report.

Reviewing the group’s performance last year, he said it cleared over 1,000ha of land under replanting activities. Last year,another 600ha of oil palm plantation had matured and started to produce fruits.

“The planting materials used in our new development and replanting programmes are our own high yielding seeds, purposely bred to suit the prevailing soil and climactic conditions in Sarawak. They are expected to show significantly greater yields compared to the previous planting materials used.

“Furthermore, we emphasize on peat soil management,focus on water management and compaction to enable the palms give their greatest potentials upon maturity.”

Abdul Hamed said the group had formulated a five-year strategic plan with a “back to basics” programme that covers all the necessary key strategies and initiatives to achieve its long term goals. The plan has been incorporated into the group’s budget between 2016 and 2020.

“These (strategies) will be cascaded down to lower level of operations on a continuing basis. The necessary monitoring and evaluation of progress is already in place,facilitated by the estate management system (EMS) as well as continuous reporting enhancement.

“The last few financial modules of our EMS went live in January-2015, enabling us to fully integrate the system which comprises estates,mills,procurement,project management and financial modules.”

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