KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has launched a RM20mil Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund to promote ideas and proposals to enhance biodiversity linked to palm oil production worldwide.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the fund's objective was also to campaign for the use of sustainable practices to enhance high standards.
He called on oil palm plantations around the world to join the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) that recognises that palm oil is an important and versatile raw material for both food and non-food industries.
“It contributes to the economic development of producing countries and the diets of millions of people around the world.
“However, production and use of palm oil must be done in a sustainable manner based on economic, social and environmental viability,” Najib said in his keynote address at the International Bio fuel and Alternative Energy Conference 2006 on Tuesday.
The Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry parliamentary secretary Senator Datuk Dr S.Vijayaratnam read the deputy premier's speech.
Najib also said that the palm oil industry was one of the main pillars of the nation's economy, with palm oil products contributing some RM27bil in exports last year.
He added that over 80% of palm oil was used for food items with the rest for non-food applications particularly in oleo chemicals.
“I am proud to note that the palm oil industry has been one of the leading producers and users of biofuel right from the beginning, namely solid bio fuel in the form of palm fibres and shell that are used to fuel the boilers in palm oil plants.
He also said that another new growth area of great potential was oil palm biomass adding that biomass utilisation was gaining momentum in recent years largely due to global concerns over environmental pollution.
He said the vast biomass resources available in the industry have not been fully exploited until now.
“It is encouraging to see some progress in Malaysia in this direction because there are now industrial plants manufacturing particle board, medium density fibreboard and plywood from palm oil.
“The Government would like the industry to tap all the available biomass and come up with value-added products that will enhance the industry's growth, competitiveness and sustainability,” he said.