Dato Dr. Tan Yew Chong, Secretary-General of Malaysia’s Ministry of Primary Industries, talks about policy implementation to enhance sustainability and competitiveness. Email Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Several major policies to enhance the sustainability of the oil palm industry were outlined at the MPOB International Palm Oil Congress and Exhibition (PIPOC).

Secretary-General of the Ministry of Primary Industries Datuk Dr Tan Yew Chong, in his plenary session, shared the government’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the position of the country’s oil palm industry in the global scene.

According to Tan, among the main goals of the nation’s current policies is to enhance the wellbeing of the industry’s smallholders as well as the lower income group.

“The oil palm industry has consistently contributed to poverty eradication and narrowing the income gap between urban and rural areas. The effort has helped to maintain the income of the smallholders by providing an economic lifeline for over 500,00 smallholders, as well as good quality of life with adequate social infrastructure,” he said in a statement.

These efforts have indirectly created around three million job opportunities, transforming the rural economy. They also address several pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations.

“We are in line with the initiatives of the SDGs, such as no poverty and no hunger. At the same time, we emphasise conducive production and consumption, which touches on life on land. More importantly, we work together as a partnership,” added Tan.

Among others, the ministry has forged a public-private partnership with the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) to further protect and promote the oil palm industry for the benefit of all stakeholders. The ongoing efforts to uphold sustainable palm oil production includes a plan to establish a fund to counter discriminatory activities against palm oil.

In addition, he shared four main strategies that will reinforce palm oil’s positioning as a sustainable commodity.

The first is a mandated capping of the total palm oil plantation area at 6.5 million hectares. Second is the prohibition of new planting of oil palm in peatland areas. Third is the banning of conversion of reserved forests for oil palm cultivation, while the fourth is about agreeing to make oil palm plantation maps available for public access.

PIPOC 2019 features five concurrent conferences in total. These are the Agriculture, Biotechnology & Sustainability (ABS) Conference; Chemistry, Processing Technology & Bio-Energy (CPTB) Conference; Oleo & Specialty Chemicals (OSC) Conference; Global Economics & Marketing (GEM) Conference; and Food, Health & Nutrition (FHN) Conference.