Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (left) with Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah (second from right) and MPOB director-general Dr Ahmad Kushairi (right) visiting an exhibition booth at the ‘Reach and Remind Friends’ seminar yesterday.  PIC BY SAIRIEN NAFIS

KUALA LUMPUR: Oil palm planters can look forward to better pricing on the back of a strong US dollar and gradual pick-up in global demand. 

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said for this year, he was hopeful that palm oil prices would average at between RM2,700 and RM2,800 per tonne, higher than last year’s RM2,600 per tonne, as demand had started to pick up.

“So far, on a monthly basis we are seeing increasing exports to China. This year, we will have to work harder to market palm oil,” he said after opening the “Reach and Remind Friends” seminar organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council here yesterday. 

Currently, palm oil is trading above RM3,000 per tonne.

As palm oil output across Malaysia and Indonesia starts to recover in the second half of the year, many among the palm oil community are predicting prices to settle.

Sime Darby Bhd president and group chief executive Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh concurred with Mah.

“It would be good for prices to trade above RM3,000 per tonne. But as output recovers in the second half of the year, we hope prices don’t settle too much. We are okay with the RM2,700 level,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mah said he would visit India next month to promote the consumption of Malaysian palm oil.

“We will also go to Iran now that sanctions are lifted,” he said.

This year, Malaysia is celebrating 100 years of oil palm planting.

In 1917, Henri Fauconnier established Malaysia’s first commercial oil palm plantation at Tennamaram Estate, Selangor, to replace an unsuccessful coffee estate.

In raising oil palm productivity, Mah said it was essential for smallholders to replant old trees.

“We have a RM30 million budget for smallholders to replant. It works out to RM7,500 per hectare. Please send in your applications.

“The palm oil industry is very important to Malaysia. While there are challenges, there is also big potential to add value to the industry,” he said.

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