KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) has continued to take the anti-palm oil campaign in the west seriously and is constantly monitoring the legal developments that could have a negative impact on the Malaysian palm oil industry.

Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng said the Malaysian oil palm industry has often been disparaged by Western countries; linking it to issues such as unsustainability, deforestation and environmental impact through anti-palm oil campaigns since the 1980s.

Replying to a question from Cha Kee Chin (DAP-Rasah) during the oral question and answer session in the Dewan Rakyat here today, he said the government has taken several steps to address the anti-palm oil campaign, both domestically and abroad.

Among other things, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has been holding meetings and discussions with lawmakers in Europe and the United States to safeguard the interests of the Malaysian palm oil, he said.

He also noted that the MPOB has also managed to garner support from countries such as China and India to challenge the proposals that would be detrimental to the palm oil trade through the Codex Alimentarius Committee Meeting.

Wee added that together with its agencies, the MPIC has been actively mobilising efforts to ensure that the country’s palm oil industry grows sustainably — in line with the vision and framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals — in meeting global demand.

He said the government has continued to emphasise the sustainability of the oil palm industry through the implementation of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification Scheme on a mandatory basis starting January 1, 2020, throughout the palm oil production supply chain.

“The government is also implementing research and development programmes, including producing oil palm planting materials with better yields and quality as well as increasing the use of farm automation and mechanisation, good agricultural practices and boosting productivity.

“Besides that, the government has limited the oil palm cultivation area to 6.5 million hectares to ensure that the oil palm industry is no longer linked to deforestation, and the opening of new oil palm plantations is not a priority for the ministry,” he said.

He said these efforts are expected to stop the outsiders, especially the European Union and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from linking palm oil with deforestation and destruction of habitat and biodiversity.

On another note, Wee said the MPIC is always ready to work with any parties, including the Sarawak Department of Agriculture (DoA) to boost and strengthen the development of the nation’s pepper industry.

He said this in reply to a question from Larry Soon @ Larry Sng Wei Shien (Bebas-Julau) on the MPIC’s readiness to collaborate with the Sarawak DoA in utilising the use of satellite technology to determine the actual size of the pepper planting and production areas in Sarawak.

The deputy minister said the Malaysian Pepper Board is currently working with the Malaysian Space Agency (MYSA) in determining the ​​pepper crop cultivation and production area by using satellite technology.

“This exercise is being conducted in phases — the first phase covers the cultivation areas in Peninsular Malaysia and is expected to be completed by year-end, followed by Sabah and Sarawak,” he added. — Bernama