Good news for Malaysian palm oil

In good hands: Mah (centre) and other representatives officiating at the opening ceremony of MSPO Appreciation Day in Putrajaya. — Bernama

In good hands: Mah (centre) and other representatives officiating at the opening ceremony of MSPO Appreciation Day in Putrajaya. — Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: There should be no issue about Malaysian palm oil entering the European Union market when all plantations and mills are certified for sustainability by the end of 2019, says Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

The Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister said making it mandatory for all to have the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification saw the number of smallholders and corporations submitting applications shoot up by 210% over the past seven months.

“By the end of next year, we would have fully complied with the EU ruling to certify our palm oil industry for sustainability and good practices.

“We hope there will be no more issues or excuses made against our commodity once we meet this requirement,” he said at the MSPO Appreciation Day event here yesterday.

The European Parliament last year passed a resolution requiring palm oil exporters to comply with a single certified sustainable palm oil scheme to be implemented from 2020.

The EU also proposed to ban palm oil biofuels by 2020, a move that could threaten the livelihood of thousands of smallholders and industry workers.

The MSPO certification scheme aims to certify oil palm plantations, independent and organised smallholdings and palm oil processing facilities based on seven principles, which includes addressing management commitment and responsibility; transparency; compliance with legal requirements; and social responsibility, health, safety and employment conditions.

It also addresses good agricultural practices which are essential for sustainable agriculture, producing a high-quality product and enhancing productivity through yield optimisation.

Mah said that by the end of 2018, the ministry had targeted 1.8 million hectares of oil palm land be certified for good practices, adding the Government had allocated RM150mil to assist 650,000 smallholders in the exercise.

“Between now and next year, we will have to work hard to ensure 100% compliance.

“Our focus will be to help the smallholders because it is important that they are not left behind in this process,” he said.

Close to 40% of the total of 5.8 million hectares of oil palm plantations in Malaysia are managed by smallholders.

On reports quoting China’s industry officials that there might be a drop in palm oil imports due to ample supply of soya oil, Mah said while this depended on market demand, Malaysia was heartened by China’s assurance that there would be no restrictions.

“The fact that China’s authorities do not impose conditions on palm oil and palm oil-based products shows that they recognise our good agriculture practices,” Mah told reporters at the event.

At the event, the minister also presented the certification to eight plantation companies – Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, JC Chang (Pte) Limited, TDM Bhd, KLK Bhd, Hap Seng Plantations Holding Bhd, Keresa Plantations Sdn Bhd, Sabah Softwoods Bhd and Achi Jaya Plantations Sdn Bhd.