Replanting of ageing oil palm crops in Sabah urgently needed, says Malaysian Oil Palm Association

KOTA KINABALU: There is a pressing need to expedite the replanting of oil palm trees to tackle the issue of over half a million ageing crops in Sabah, says the Malaysian Oil Palm Association chief executive officer.

Joseph Tek Choon Yee said the need for efficient mechanisation solutions, particularly for harvesting bunches from tall palms and gathering loose fruit, worsens the problem.

He said the desire for quick profits often discourages investment in replanting efforts despite worries about sustainability.

“The challenge is securing enough funding for this plan, striking a balance between immediate profits and long-term sustainability,” he said during a seminar on the imperatives of oil palm replanting in Sandakan on Saturday (April 27).

He said the association asked for government assistance through a replanting tax incentive and advocated the inclusion of oil palm replanting in the existing reinvestment allowance scheme as well as allowing its full use in a plantation company's taxable income.

“We believe that replanting is not just an expense but a wise investment in industry productivity, gross domestic product (GDP) growth, and future tax revenue for the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Chan Foong Hin, who launched the event, highlighted Sabah’s commendable replanting effort of 61,421 hectares last year, an increase from the previous year’s 36,218 hectares.

According to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Sabah's replanted area represented 47% of the total replanting in Malaysia, which was 131,917 hectares in 2023.

“It is important for major palm oil companies to continue collaboration and support this replanting effort, which is crucial for the long-term economic health of the palm oil industry,” he said.

Some 35 industry stakeholders attended the one-day seminar.

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