KOTA KINABALU, April 1 — After announcing that the government will halt the expansion of oil palm plantations in the country last year, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said that the country is currently at 90 per cent of its 6.5 million-hectare limit.
Kok said that the country now has 5.85 million hectares of oil palm plantations, which are facing a glut in the midst of the ongoing trade row with the European Union.
“This is part of our strategy. While it is an important industry for us, we have stopped planting. Their accusation is that the crop is causing deforestation. So our action is to halt any expansion, and we are also planting trees in place of degraded forests,” she said.
Kok said this is the logical move after global trends showed that Africa and Colombia are going into palm oil in a major way and will present a new challenge to the industry here.
“That’s why the Cabinet has approved a cap on our plantations,” she told reporters after chairing a meeting with Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry officials here.
She said that big plantations have mostly agreed that in the face of fluctuating prices, it was a good move to stop planting oil palm and move to other crops.
She said Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal had also agreed to the halt.
Kok added that she has initiated a programme for one million trees to be replanted in degraded forests around Lahad Datu within 10 years.
The call for retaliation would take place if EU proceeds to implement the Delegated Act to phase out and ban palm biodiesel.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had previously said Malaysia would consider retaliatory action against European exports if the EU proceeds to implement the Act.