MANY Malaysians use palm oil daily without realising its remarkable features.
As part of its ongoing efforts to educate students in tertiary institution on the benefits of palm oil, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) organised an engagement session through its Palm Oil Student Ambassador Programme at Segi University.
Providing a platform for knowledge sharing, the programme was also to instil pride and appreciation of the nation’s biggest commodity among students, to support the palm oil industry in terms of sharing information and to counter misconceptions on digital and social media.
At the event, agronomist Teoh Cheng Hai shared some interesting facts on palm oil: “Palm oil is a versatile ingredient that is used in a wide range of products. Palm-oil based ingredients often comprise 50% of consumer products sold on supermarket shelves, including food and non-food items such as toothpaste, soap and facial cream.”
He pointed out that productivity of the oil palm was high.
“The yield of the oil palm is five to nine times higher than rapeseed, sunflower and soybean on the same area of land, which leads to palm oil being the most affordable oil globally,” he shared.
Dietitian Khor Ban Hock, who spoke on healthy eating and palm oil, pointed out that palm oil could be used in most food preparation methods and was cholesterol and trans fatty acid-free.
“It also contains carotenoids and vitamin E,” he said, adding that people should refer to scientific evidence of palm oil rather than base their opinion on misinformation.
Segi University vice-chancellor Prof Patrick Kee commended the students for stepping up as ambassadors for Malaysia to defend the palm oil industry.
“I hope with this programme, our youth would be more knowledgeable about palm oil and its industry, and better armed to explain its attributes to the world on social media,” he said.
During a discussion with guest-of-honour Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, student ambassadors of the university had the opportunity to express their views and aspirations to support the commodity.
Kok said it was high time Malaysians spread the correct information to educate and create awareness.
“When we go South Korea, we all know about ginseng as it is related closely to the lives and economy of Koreans. They love ginseng, and have it in their tea, cosmetics and many other items.
“In Malaysia, palm oil is everywhere; we use it on our face, in our bathroom, in our food, and in the vitamins that we take but so many of us are ignorant.
“We are engaged in a perception war and Malaysians need to defend our nation’s commodity,” said Kok, referring to the anti-palm oil campaigns in the European Union that created concerns on deforestation and biodiversity loss.
Kok urged students to do more to help promote the commodity, which 640,000 smallholders in Malaysia depend on for their livelihood.
“Students can look into the social aspects of palm oil in Malaysia or Indonesia as such research is lacking.
“We have limited funds to fight the EU and promote palm oil, so we are partnering with various organisations.
“I have talked to developers who are willing to accommodate a palm oil information wall in certain shopping complexes while airlines can promote the commodity through airports and in-flight magazines.
“We are also working with travel operators to introduce tour packages on oil palm plantations for tourists.
“We are hoping that in the years to come, Malaysians are equipped with adequate knowledge of palm oil to disseminate true facts globally,” said Kok, adding that the ministry was also exploring having a refinery plant for biojet fuel.