Dompok: Oil palm sector under pressure

Posted on January 26, 2011. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

-The Star-

PUTRAJAYA: The current and future expansion of oil palm plantations is limited due to the unavailability of suitable land and this problem is further compounded by campaigns by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to stop oil palm expansion, according to Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

“We are still fighting the anti-palm oil NGOs and explaining to them that land occupied by oil palm is only 0.22% of the total world agricultural area. Our country has enough permanent forests for conserving biodiversity,” Dompok said at the seminar called Reach and Teach, Friend of the Industry: Challenges and Opportunities in 2011 yesterday.

Within the European Union (EU), he noted the constant pressure from NGOs regarding the usage of palm oil in their products, as a result of which Malaysia had witnessed a drop in the quantity of palm oil consumed within the EU.

“I have led a mission to the EU in November last year to explain our stand and approach on sustainable oil palm cultivation. Malaysia will continue to undertake such efforts this year by engaging various sectors of the EU policy makers and European members of Parliament,” he said.

Dompok said the Malaysian palm oil industry had set high standards for quality in products and services which was reflected in its export growth. Malaysia exported palm oil products valued at RM59.77bil last year, an increase of RM9.77bil or 19.5% compared to 2009.

He said a new record could be achieved following the highest value of RM65bil in 2008 for exports of palm oil products, if the crude palm oil (CPO) prices stayed at a buoyant level and there was no sudden plunge in the current market prices.

“The industry has been a constant contributor to the country’s export earnings and I sincerely believe that it will continue to do so in the long term as well,” Dompok said.

Malaysian palm oil is currently exported to more than 150 countries globally.

Today, palm oil is the leading edible oil traded and consumed globally with a share of 56% and 26% of the total oils and fats respectively.

“Palm oil is expected to remain as an important product in the global oils and fats markets in years to come. Among the countries that are not self-sufficient in oils and fats, China remains the biggest importer of Malaysian palm oil,” he said, adding that India, Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa could not be overlooked either.

Furthermore, Dompok said: “We need to work even harder this year as the production of local palm oil is expected to be around 17.6 million tonnes, while Indonesia’s production is estimated at about 22 million tonnes.”

In 2010, CPO production was 16.99 million tonnes, a decline of 0.57 million tonnes or 3.3% compared to a production of 17.56 million tonnes in 2009. This was partly contributed to the short El-Nino period, according to Dompok.

The industry has been identified as the second priority sector under the Economic Transformation Programme. The sector is projected to contribute a gross national income from its current level of RM52.7bil to RM178bil by 2020.

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