Close to RM50m spent to enhance Sarawak oil palm industry, says state deputy minister

Deputy Minister II of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Willie Mongin (centre) delivers his presentation during the dialogue held at MBKS Auditorium. — Borneo Post Online pic
Deputy Minister II of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Willie Mongin (centre) delivers his presentation during the dialogue held at MBKS Auditorium. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KUCHING, March 30 ­— Close to RM50 million has been spent on various research and development (R&D) projects conducted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to enhance the industry in Sarawak.

In stating this, Deputy Minister II of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Willie Mongin said from that amount, RM14.09 million was for the development of MPOB research stations in Sessang and Belaga for agronomic studies of oil palm cultivation on peatlands, research grants on greenhouse gas emissions as well as crop-livestock-oil palm integration projects.

“A total of RM35 million is spent on R&D projects that cover microbial biodiversity studies, insect species composition, socio-economic impact on local communities in Belaga and also palm oil-related downstream strategies for Sarawak,” he said during a dialogue with oil palm industry players and MPOB licensees, which took place at the MBKS Auditorium here yesterday.

In his presentation Willie, who is Puncak Borneo MP, talked about the implementation of the R&D projects that had spanned from the Seventh Malaysia Plan (7MP) to the 11MP.

Adding on, he said the government had utilised the cess collection for this sector to partly cover the palm oil-related R&D projects in the country and in this connection, he also mentioned the implementation of the new cess rate effective March 1 this year, which represented an increase to RM16 per tonne, from RM14 per tonne previously.

“This is in line with the rise in the price of crude palm oil (CPO), at above RM3,000 per tonne,” he said.

Willie also opined that price of CPO, which surged to RM4,247.50 per tonne on March 15 this year — an all-time high in the history of this commodity in Malaysia  —  could strengthen further due to declining stocks, increased exports and the strengthening soybean oil prices in the global market.

“That said, the government has agreed with the industry players’ request for the channelling of the additional cess collection of RM30 million to the Mechanisation and Automation Research Consortium of Oil Palm (Marcop).

“This would complement the RM30-million allocation by the government through matching grants for the development of mechanisation and automation (for this industry), as announced in Budget 2021.”

MPOB’s cess revenue would, thus, be channelled to fund marketing and promotional activities by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), and also to fund the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification for smallholders and millers to boost global competitiveness and sustainability of this industry in Malaysia.

MPOB would also channel an allocation of the cess revenue to fund the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), which was established to address the challenges faced by industry players at the international level, such as the anti-palm oil campaign and the discrimination by the European Union against bio palm-based fuels.

“For the implementation of MSPO certification for smallholders, MPOB has established 162 sustainable palm oil clusters (SPOCs) nationwide, all of which have been MSPO-certified, involving the participation of 101,759 independent smallholders and covering an area of 403,255 hectares,” said Willie.

As for Sarawak, 32 SPOCs had been established, with the involvement of 23,134 independent smallholders and coverage over 132,451.66 hectares of oil palm plantations that had been MSPO-certified.

Additionally, the total area of oil palms cultivated by independent smallholders in Sarawak stood at 234,812.37 hectares, with the involvement of 40,513 smallholders.

On a similar subject, Willie also said MPOB had been in collaboration with the federal and state government agencies managing smallholders, and it had been able to issue certification to all structured smallholders with an area of 724,633 hectares nationwide.

“These include the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) with an area of 51,641 hectares, and the Sarawak Land Development Authority with 957 hectares.”

As of Jan 1 last year, the government has declared the mandatory implementation of MSPO certification covering oil palm mills, estates and also the smallholders.

However, the mandatory enforcement of MSPO certification over the small holders category would only come into effect this July 1, in that they (smallholders) are being given a ‘moratorium’ to facilitate their preparation for the implementation of the certification. — Borneo Post Online

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