Sime Darby Plantation Bhd chief of Transformation and Innovation, Dr Shariman Alwani speak during the seminar in Kuala Lumpur. - NSTP/ HAFIZ SOHAIMI

KUALA LUMPUR: The palm oil sector needs to mechanise and automate further to raise productivity, said Dr Shariman Alwani, who is head of strategy, innovation and renewables at Sime Darby Plantation Bhd.

“The global demand for palm is still there and our production continues to be strong. Fundamentally, the sector is strong.

“Right now, oil palm planters and palm oil exporters are working through some structural issues in terms of inventories and pricing,” said Shariman.

“Once all these structural issues are sorted out — partly by itself and via government policies such as the B10 biodiesel mandate — the outlook will be good,” he added.

Shariman was speaking to reporters at a seminar here today, jointly organised by AmInvestment Bank and stock market operator Bursa Malaysia.

On industry challenge, he acknowledged that oil palm yields had stagnated for more than 10 years, at 19 per cent across Malaysia and Indonesia.

He added that this presented opportunities for agronomists and scientists to be more committed in raising productivity via usage of digital technology over manual labour at the estates.