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Ministry to ramp up engagement to arrest decline in oil palm sector, says Johari

PETALING JAYA: Johari Ghani fears the oil palm sector may suffer the same fate as the rubber industry unless corrective action is taken.

The plantation and commodities minister said one way of arresting the decline in palm oil production was to ramp up engagement with those in the private sector who were involved in the industry.

Saying the ministry intended to play a more aggressive role in promoting the industry, Johari hoped this would restore business confidence and encourage them to invest more domestically.

Johari said in 2022, crude palm oil production was less than 18 million metric tonnes, compared with a decade ago when the country produced 19 million metric tonnes.

“It did not progress,” he said in a televised interview tonight.

Neighbour Indonesia, on the other hand, fared better, he said, adding that this year alone the republic’s yield hit 45 million metric tonnes. In 2013, Indonesia’s yield was 26 million metric tonnes, he noted.

“I fear if we don’t handle this commodity properly, it will end up like (the) rubber (industry). In 1970, we were almost number one, the biggest producer of rubber.”

He said Vietnam, a little over five decades ago, only produced 30,000 metric tonnes of rubber. But in 2022, it produced over 1 million metric tonnes, compared with Malaysia’s 400,000 metric tonnes, he said.

“It is now the third largest exporter of natural rubber.”

Johari said one of the reasons why the oil palm industry did not grow was because smallholders had no succession plan.

He said when it came to palm oil – which he said was still a “huge contributor” to the economy – there was a need to ramp up engagement with the private sector involved in the industry.

He went on to say that his ministry was not a revenue generating entity, but it was meant to act as a facilitator for the private sector when it came to commodities.

“We make it easy for them to do business. This way when they make profits, they will become more sustainable.”

He said one way the government could play the role of facilitator was to help the private sector comply with international standards to ensure their products continue to penetrate the European market.

The industry, on the other hand, needs to modernise its approach, improve efficiency and quality in production.

However, he said, different commodities require different strategies.

“There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all, that’s why engagement is important.”

Source : FMT 

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