PONTIAN: Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok (pic) hopes to clear the air over the issue of oil palm smallholders at the Pakatan Harapan ceramah here on Monday night (Nov 11).
"I hope so. We will be distributing flyers to tell them about the real figures by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) with my presence here tonight.
"All this will be in our ceramah tonight," she said ahead of two Pakatan ceramah that are slated to take place at Taman Utama in Pekan Nanas and Taman Kota Emas.
Earlier, she attended a meeting and briefing with 250 smallholders from here.
Also present were Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) chief executive officer Chew Jit Seng and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) Integration Research and Extension Division director Dr Ramle Moslim.
On Oct 22, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would not retract his criticism of New Delhi's action in the disputed region of Kashmir despite calls for a boycott of Malaysian palm oil by Indian traders.
This has led to tense relations between Malaysia and India, subsequently raising concerns among smallholders over reduced sales in the price of fresh fruit bunches (FFB).
The issue has been hot here in anticipation of the by-election as there are many smallholders in Tanjung Piai.
As of Oct 31, Kok said that the palm oil price was at RM2,485 per tonne compared to RM1,700 per tonne in Dec last year.
"Between January and September this year, our palm oil export to China and India increased 24% and 98.2% respectively.
"These are facts that people should know," she said.
Not discounting the fact that some smallholders are unhappy over the current situation, citing a decrease in earnings and higher costs, Kok said they might not feel much from the increase in figures as their earnings were affected by other factors, such as middlemen and their margins.
Kok noted that the MPOB is doing its best to help, including encouraging and assisting smallholders to set up cooperatives to sell oil palm directly without going through middlemen.
She noted that Malaysia is set to export its red palm oil (carotene) to China as part of its "Sayangi Sawitku" campaign.
"We have introduced our red palm oil to companies in China during trade shows before and we are going through the due process now.
"Not many people know about the great health benefits of red palm oil.
"China is a good market with potential and we should tap into it and offer our products there," she added.
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