Opportunities for Malaysian palm oil companies to cultivate African land, says Bidco Africa group co-founder

Bidco Africa group co-founder and chairman Vimal Shah said the uncultivated land mass could cater for a longer term perspective with wide open opportunities available for both countries. — Reuters pic
Bidco Africa group co-founder and chairman Vimal Shah said the uncultivated land mass could cater for a longer term perspective with wide open opportunities available for both countries. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Malaysian palm oil companies have been invited to enter the African market by utilising available unused land mass of 600 million hectares for palm oil cultivation in the continent.

Bidco Africa group co-founder and chairman Vimal Shah said the uncultivated land mass could cater for a longer term perspective with wide open opportunities available for both countries. 

“Africa’s population is expected to be 2.5 billion in 2050, hence the opportunity is very good as we have digital technology, enough land, the equatorial zone, similar climate zone and high labour availability.

“Africa has 600 million hectares available and it is enough to produce palm oil for the people. For a longer term perspective, we could feed the world,” he said on the second day of the virtual Malaysian Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar 2021 (POTS Digital 2021), today.

Bidco is a multinational consumer goods company headquartered in Thika, Kenya.

Currently, Vimal said Africa imports about seven million tonnes of palm oil, with 37 per cent of it coming from Malaysia.

“Malaysian palm oil quality is better. From buyers’ perspective we see no difference between Malaysia and Indonesia’s palm oil. Overall, we imported about 2.2 million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil into Africa. Africans do not look at where it originated but at the best price and trading terms,” he said.

On the short term perspective, he said the region hoped to replace its overall imported seven million tonnes of palm oil with Malaysia’s crude palm oil (CPO).

Meanwhile, he said Africa recently on January 1 launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will create a single market for goods and services, in hopes of boosting trade among its nations.

Yesterday, Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) chief executive officer Datuk Kalyana Sundram said demand for Malaysia’s crude palm oil (CPO) is also expected to come from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), South Asia and Uzbekistan, Sub-Saharan Africa, European Union and Eastern Europe regions.

On MENA, he said the higher intake of palm oil in the food processing industry and the growth of the HoReCa (hotel/restaurant/cafe) sector to cater to tourism industry needs in Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia would create more opportunities for palm oil exports. — Bernama

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