Teresa Kok: Govt to stop oil palm expansion, maintain forest cover

Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok speaks during the Corporate Malaysia Summit 2018 in Kuala Lumpur September 04, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok speaks during the Corporate Malaysia Summit 2018 in Kuala Lumpur September 04, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — The government will not allow any more expansion of oil palm plantations in the country, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said today.

She said Malaysia's forest cover was over 50 per cent and the government was committed to maintaining it.

“We are committed to maintain at least 50 per cent of the land as forest cover, so we won’t allow any expansion of these oil palm plantations,” she said after her keynote address during the Corporate Malaysia Summit this afternoon at the Sime Darby Convention Centre here.

Asked the impact of the government decision on its long-term revenue, Kok said the decision will be up to palm oil producing companies.

She noted the glut in palm oil supply worldwide due to overproduction by Malaysia and Indonesia. The two countries are the biggest producers of palm oil globally.

“The situation now is, there is excess palm oil supplies, here and in Indonesia.

“In the long run, we will let the individual plantation companies decide if they want to maintain their land as palm oil estates or harvest different crops,” she said.

She added that several companies were already mulling converting their estates into coconut plantation farms.

Kok was elaborating on an earlier statement that the local palm oil industry is looking to broaden its market internationally.

She also said her ministry is hopes all existing palm oil traders can achieve 100 per cent Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification by December 31 next year.

“This will be challenging as only 20 per cent or around one million hectares are currently registered,” she said.

Kok said ministry had already contacted Felda and the Sabah Parti Warisan-led government to hold talks on educating rural traders on standard guidelines.

“We are going to move fast, especially with the planters in the interior section of the certain states where the aim is to educate them on the standards they would need to comply to raise the marketability of their product.

“We want to explain to the planters the importance in making first class or five-star standard palm oil.

“And we have to make sure that all planters even the small ones are accepted and not marginalised, and they need the MSPO certification first to be accepted,” she said.

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