KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — The production of palm oil has yet to meet pre-pandemic levels, according to statistics compiled by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), thanks to domestic issues of labour shortages and production disruptions, said Ong Kian Ming.
In a statement today, the DAP spokesman for international trade and industry also said crude palm oil (CPO) prices increased from RM2,000/tonne in 2019 to slightly over RM4,000/tonne, but domestic producers had not reaped the benefits.
“The labour shortage in the palm oil sector, which the Malaysian Estate Owners Association (MEOA) estimates at approximately 120,000, looks unlikely to be resolved this year especially with continued uncertainties at the government-to-government level between Malaysia and Indonesia with regard to policies which are supposed to be in place to protect foreign labour in Malaysia especially in the plantation sector,” he said.
MPOB statistics have shown that the production of crude palm oil fell 1.7 million tonnes or 8.8 per cent from 2019 to 2022, from 19.9 million tonnes in 2019 to 18.1 million tonnes in 2021.
Crude palm kernel oil, which is used for the making of soap and commercial cooking, also fell 272,000 tonnes or 11.7 per cent from 2019 to 2021.
Besides that, cooking oil production fell 29.2 per cent from 574,488 tonnes in 2019 to 406,777 tonnes in 2021.
“The labour shortages in the palm oil sector are just one example of the larger failures of this government to have a coordinated approach to tackle this problem across all of the relevant ministry — Home Affairs, Human Resources, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, just to name a few.
“This policy failure is one of the factors which have led to domestic supply chain bottlenecks and disruptions that also partly explain the increase in the cost of production, the cost of the final products and recent shortages in some items, including cooking oil,” he added.
The Bangi MP suggested that the government take a more proactive approach towards solving the labour shortage issues faced by the palm oil industry and other sectors.
He cautioned against banning the export of palm oil-related products in order to solve domestic supply issues, citing the example of the ban over exporting chicken which caused companies in other countries to seek out alternative export sources, harming local producers.