Malaysia: Minister says palm oil industry not out of the doldrums yet

The Malaysian government is expected to lay down a strong policy framework to further develop the oil palm industry and provide assistance, as well as ensure sustainable development alongside the industry’s competitiveness.

This was spelt out recently by the country’s newly appointed Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok. She also said that the oil palm industry continues to face challenges, especially in the form of anti-palm oil campaigns from Europe.

“Consumers around the world need to know that criticism on the health aspects of palm oil is unfair and not substantiated with scientific facts,” she said in her opening speech at the 24th Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) Transfer of Technology Seminar and Exhibition recently.

In her speech read by Deputy Minister of Primary Industries Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin, she pointed out that the world needed to know that Malaysia had always advocated sustainable development and management of the oil palm industry and conservation of forests and biodiversity.

“The anti-palm oil campaign strategy has now changed and the detractors of palm oil claim that it is harmful to the environment. We need to provide scientific facts and data to counter these negative allegations and reports regarding the oil palm industry, especially in terms of deforestation and land use change,” she added.

Kok noted that Malaysia’s oil palm industry was highly regulated and it was in the government’s interest to ensure the environment, rainforest and wildlife were protected and conserved.

Malaysia’s initiative to implement the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and make the certification compliance mandatory by Dec 31, 2019, would raise the bar for the local palm oil industry not only in sustainability but also in quality standard, she said.

“I am, therefore, confident that through the concerted promotion of the MSPO, Malaysian palm oil will find a niche in the international oils and fats market,” she added.

The Minster also pointed out that the Malaysian oil palm industry must keep itself relevant for many years to come, with the incorporation of new technologies into the entire value chain to make the industry more efficient and productive, generating growth and value addition.

Between 1995 and 2017, the MPOB made available 648 technologies and 174 services applicable to the oil palm industry.

To date, 198 MPOB technologies have been commercialized: constituting a rate of 30% of, compared with the national average of 3 to 5%.

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