Uptick in agricommodity sector

China vice premier Ding Xuexiang receiving Fadillah (left) on his official visit to China in November. In this trade mission, a Chinese palm oil refinery was awarded Malaysian MSPO certification.

WITHIN a year under Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof’s stewardship since December 2022, the Plantation and Commodities Ministry (Kementerian Perladangan dan Komoditi, or KPK) recorded numerous achievements that contributed to the country’s economic growth, especially in the agricom-modity sector.

By November 2023, KPK pro-grammes have met their set targets, and one notable accomplishment was the agricommodity sector’s export performance.

“The recorded export value of the agricommodity sector including palm oil, rubber, timber, cocoa, tobacco, and pepper reached RM117.2bil by September 2023,” says Fadillah.

“For instance, in November a roundtable conference was held with various stakeholders in the industry to boost Malaysia’s agri commodity exports to China.

“During this mission, the Grand Oils & Fats (Dongguan) Co Ltd palm oil refinery based in Dongguan was awarded Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification by th Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC).

“This marked a proud achievement for the Malaysian palm oil industry in promoting and gaining recognition for the MSPO certification scheme in the global market,” says the KPK Minister, who also serves as one of two deputy prime ministers of the country.

“KPK will remain committed to enhancing global cooperation and regional diplomatic relations to strengthen agricommodity exports for the benefit of Malaysia and its people,” Fadillah adds.

In addition to strengthening the export value of agricommodities, KPK’s achievements were measured in terms of sustainable development in the agricommodity industry, among them:

> 94.89% of oil palm plantations were MSPO certified.

> Six new certifications for the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) for Forest Management Unit (FMU) until Oct 31.

> Rubber Production Incentive (RPI) activation pricing level was increased from RM2.50 to RM2.70 per kg. The estimated payment for RPI in 2023 is RM28.23mil, benefiting 230,000 smallholders.

> RM350mil allocation to assist rubber smallholders.

> Development of 9,760 skilled workers in the agricommodity sector.

> Trek Komoditi KPK 2023 programme – with the theme Driving the Sustainability of the Country’s Commodities for the People’s Wellbeing – that serves as a platform for the ministry to provide support to smallholders and industry players in the agricommodity sector.

In 2023 KPK reached several agreements and collaborations with foreign countries.

“In May, the ministry engaged with the European Union in Brussels on the establishment of a joint task force related to the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).

The task force comprises KPK, the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, and the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC).

“The establishment of the task force was a crucial point for the Malaysian government as a mechanism for negotiation and coordination, and a platform for Malaysia, Indonesia, and the EU to address issues and propose solutions for the implementation of the EUTR,” says Fadillah.

By embracing technology in the agricultural commodity sector, KPK helped to bring about changes in the supply chain management to enhance transparency and efficiency ensuring product integrity from plantation to consumer.

The integration of cutting-edge technology into the agricultural sector, especially for oil palm and rubber crops, represented a leap forward in modernising and optimising agricultural practices.

Advanced technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, and farm automation helped to improve efficiency, productivity, and sustainability in the agricommodity sector.

The incorporation of IR 4.0 technology in the agricommodity sector is essential to make it more sustainable, efficient, and resilient in the face of current challenges such as climate change and market fluctuations.

As such, the government has allocated RM30mil to encourage the use of automation, mechanisation, and IR 4.0 elements to boost the development of the agricommodity sector next year.

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