KOTA KINABALU: Help is on the way for thousands of oil palm smallholders in the state who are facing financial dire straits because they have difficulty selling their produce amidst plunging crude palm oil prices.
State and federal authorities are embarking on a five-pronged strategy to help these smallholders ride out the global economic recession that has caused the drop in demand for crude palm, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said.
Replying to a question from Datuk Ramlee Marahaban (BN-Buggaya), he said these strategies include getting related government agencies such as Sawit Kinabalu, the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) and Felda to buy oil palm fruits at a price not less than the smallholders’ production costs.
He said biodiesel derived from palm oil and regular diesel would also be used as power generation fuel in Sabah.
This was being undertaken jointly by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), Tenaga Nasional and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd, he added at the Sabah state assembly.
Musa said the Government had also directed the Sabah Development Bank, the Sabah Credit Corporation and Agro Bank to reschedule the smallholders’ loans.
He said the Government was also encouraging smallholders with trees older than 25 years to take part in a re-planting programme using higher-yielding oil palm clones.
Noting the importance of the palm oil sector to the state economy, Musa said the Government had also set up an action committee to closely monitor any developments or problems faced by the industry.