Total Views: 151
Double down efforts to counter negative media on palm oil, says Fadillah
calendar24-02-2023 | linkFree Malaysia Today | Share This Post:

23.02.2023 (Free Malaysia Today) - PETALING JAYA: Malaysia must make it a priority to counter negative campaigns against its commodities, particularly palm oil, by the western media, says deputy prime minister Fadillah Yusof.

He singled out an attempt by the European Union (EU) to link palm oil cultivation to deforestation as one of many such campaigns.

The EU had recently imposed fresh restrictions on the import of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia under its deforestation laws.

Exporters are now required to prove that the production process of specific commodities, including palm oil, does not damage forests.

Fadillah pointed out that oil palm is, “by a long stretch”, the most efficient oil bearing crop.

“It accounts for only 0.6% of the world’s agricultural land use but produces 35.5% of the world’s vegetable oil output,” he said when speaking at the Global Business Forum 2023 organised by KSI Strategic Institute for Asia-Pacific here today.

Fadillah said the government will work with other countries that have been affected by the EU’s latest move to collectively put their position across and stressed that Malaysia is fully committed to environmental sustainability.

“With the growing demand for sustainably produced commodities, we realise it is very important to meet our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs,” he said.

Fadillah said the government continues to undertake several measures in line with its commitment to fulfil environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements in line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

One such measure, he said, is the expansion of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme that has, to date, reached 97.93% of all planted areas.

The objective of the MSPO standard is to reduce ambiguity and increase credibility to help Malaysia gain further recognition for its palm oil on the international market.

Apart from the issue of deforestation, Malaysian palm oil has also been subject to allegations of forced labour. Two years ago, the US customs and border protection (CBP) imposed a ban on the import of palm oil products from Sime Darby Plantation Bhd on suspicion that the company depended on forced labour.

The CBP lifted the ban last month after its findings showed that the allegations were false.

Moving forward, Fadillah told the forum that the plantations and commodities ministry will be working to integrate the sector with elements of the fourth industrial revolution (IR4.0).

This, he said, was in response to the increasing use of digitalisation in the agricommodity sector.

He said the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) also launched the mechanisation and automation research consortium of oil palm in 2021 to address the sector’s high dependence on foreign labour.

“The MPOB is currently working with Fusionex Group to develop the smart palm oil mills concept aimed at ensuring zero waste,” he added.