Teresa Kok and Shafie Apdal discuss sustainable palm oil and timber industries

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government will try to get all palm oil planters in the state to apply for the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification by December 2019.

Teresa Kok (pic), the Minister of Primary Industries, said she had met and spoken with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal about the matter, in a bid to help big and small palm oil industry players to penetrate foreign markets.

She said the MSPO would require players to abide by certain rules which would see a more sustainable palm oil industry created and the same time, push for quality production of fruits and oil palm.

“A special unit from my ministry and the Sabah government will be set up to facilitate and speed up the MSPO certification process,” Kok said after paying a courtesy call to Shafie at his office here, Thursday (Sept 20).

Shafie said there are some 221,000ha of lands used for oil palm plantations, but only about 2,600ha (or 1.2%) are MSPO certified.

“It is useless if we have the products but they are not up to international quality or standard.

"There won’t be any market out of Sabah for them and it would be a huge loss,” he said.

He said MSPO certified plantations would see their produce fetching more stable and higher prices.

Other issues discussed during the courtesy call are Sabah’s logging and rubber industry.

Shafie said with the banning of exports of logs from Sabah, they are looking at bringing more investors and manufacturers to produce furniture in Sabah.

“The ban on exports of logs is also one way for us to preserve and protect our environment as well as wildlife,” he said adding the Primary Industries Ministry has also agreed to act as a marketing agent for Sabah in this sense.

He said controlling the logging industry and banning its exports would result in the state losing quite a sum of money due to its economic potential.

“But we don’t mind as long as we are able to protect our environment and wildlife,” he said, adding the government can search for other alternative income, including downstream industries, to make up for the loss.

On Sabah’s rubber industry, Kok and Shafie discussed how to develop rubberised tar or bitumen for roads and seismic isolation bearings for buildings, to stabilise them, minimise cracks and prevent collapse during earthquakes.

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