Making palm oil sustainable

Roland (centre) receiving a memento from MPOCC chairman Datuk M Nagarajan after opening the forum.

KUCHING: There is an urgent need for all palm oil industry players to obtain certification to prove that the commodity is being grown sustainably to strengthen the image of the industry globally.

Sarawak Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Assistant Minister Datuk Roland Sagah said the cost of obtaining Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification should also be defrayed for smallholders.

Of the total 518,794ha MSPO-certified areas throughout the country, some 30% is in Sarawak.

A total of 15 out of 50 MSPO certified mills in the country are also located in the state.

However, to make sustainable palm oil a success, participation from all segments of the palm oil industry is needed to achieve 100% MSPO certification.

There are several challenges faced by the Malaysian palm oil industry in major export destinations, including the need to produce palm oil which is certified sustainable, Sagah pointed out.

“The European Parliament voted in favour of the resolution to phase out palm-based biofuel from the EU’s energy mix after 2020, based on the premise that oil palm development leads to deforestation,” he said in his keynote address at the Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) forum here.

Last year, Sarawak had the second largest oil palm planted area of 1.56 million ha and produced 4.1 million tonnes of crude palm oil.

About 34,590 smallholders in Sarawak are involved in the palm oil industry.

“MSPO will be part of Malaysia’s effort to demonstrate to the global community our commitment in ensuring sustainable production of palm oil.

“Considering the growing concerns in major importing markets for certified sustainable palm oil, the Government agreed to implement MSPO on a mandatory basis beginning December 2019,” Sagah said.

He added that the certification provided a host of benefits, which include enhancing productivity through optimising yields with the application of good agriculture practices and translates to higher income for small-time farmers, who account for up to 40% of planted areas.

The forum, organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC), attracted some 300 participants made up largely of palm oil smallholders and plantation owners.

Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association, Sirim Qas International Sdn Bhd and WWF-Malaysia also gave presentations at the forum.

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