Malaysia Hits A ‘Cover’ Drive; To Retain Its Forests And Halt Palm Oil Expansion 

Primary Industries Minister For Malaysia Teresa Kok

The Malaysian government will not allow any more expansion of oil palm plantations in the country, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said on Thursday (October 4). Addressing a gathering of corporates in Kuala Lumpur, she said Malaysia's forest cover was over 50 per cent, and the government was committed to maintaining it, reported Malay Mail.

“We are committed to maintaining at least 50 per cent of the land as forest cover so we won’t allow any expansion of these oil palm plantations,” she said after her keynote address during the Corporate Malaysia Summit at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

She also noted the glut in palm oil supply worldwide due to overproduction by Malaysia and Indonesia. These two countries are the biggest producers of palm oil globally.

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“The situation now is that there is excess palm oil supplies, here and in Indonesia. In the long run, we will let individual plantation companies decide if they want to maintain their land as palm oil estates or harvest different crops,” she said.

She added that several companies were already mulling converting their estates into coconut plantation farms. Kok was elaborating on an earlier statement that the local palm oil industry was looking to broaden its market internationally. She also said her ministry was hoping all existing palm oil traders can achieve 100 per cent Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification by 31 December next year. “This will be challenging as only 20 per cent or around one million hectares are currently registered,” she added.

Kok said her ministry had already contacted Felda and the Sabah Parti Warisan-led government to hold talks on educating rural traders on standard guidelines.

“We are going to move fast, especially with planters in the interior section of the certain states where the aim is to educate them on the standards they would need to comply to raise the marketability of their product. We want to explain to the planters the importance of making first class or five-star standard palm oil. We have to make sure that all planters, even the small ones, are accepted and not marginalised, and they need the MSPO certification first to be accepted.”

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