SANDAKAN, March 31 — The government has no intention of suspending the implementation of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said.

She said the MSPO certification is necessary to ensure that palm oil is recognised as a sustainable and five-star commodity.

“That’s why we want to continue with the MSPO certification seriously. Otherwise, it will be difficult for us to market palm oil in the future, especially when European Union (EU) countries impose various obstacles to the entry of palm oil into their markets,” she said.

Kok was speaking to reporters after visiting smallholder Chong Yun Loi, 52, whose two-hectare oil palm smallholding that he cultivated since 2006, received the MSPO certification last week.

The minister was asked to comment on the call made by many oil palm smallholders for the government to postpone the MSPO certification implementation until the market improves as they are facing difficulty in abiding by the conditions.

Kok said the government provides an audit cost of RM135 per hectare of oil palm smallholding to facilitate smallholders in applying for the MSPO certification.

Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council chief executive officer Chew Jit Seng said there are about 650,000 smallholders nationwide who are cultivating 38 per cent of the total 5.85 million hectares of areas under oil palm.

The government has made it mandatory for all oil palm planters and smallholders in the country to obtain the MSPO certification, which outlines best agricultural practices to make the country’s palm oil an international choice, by December 31.

Earlier, Kok visited the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sepilok near here.

Commending the Sabah government in preserving and conserving the environment and wildlife through the State Forestry Department and Sabah Wildlife Department, she said, “The efforts should be vigorously promoted, especially to the international community, as they will help us combat the anti-palm oil campaign abroad.” — Bernama