Keresa Plantations grows on RSPO practices practices, smallholder co-operatives

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Photo shows oil palm trees at one of Keresa Plantations’ estates. The local planter is targeting 142,000mt of FFB from its own estates this year on the back of implementation of RSPO practices along with contribution from participating smallholders, according to Kumaran (inset).

KUCHING: Keresa Plantations Sdn Bhd (Keresa Plantations), a local oil palm player is targeting 142,000 metric tonnes (mt) of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) from its own estates this year on the back of implementation of Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) practices along with contribution from participating smallholders.

Plantation general manager AK Kumaran told The Borneo Post that the company had adopted Best Management Practices in order to improve yield per hectare and oil extraction rates (OER).

“We have a Total Quality Management Unit to monitor all field operations for continuous improvement approach. In 2012, Keresa Mill Sdn Bhd (KMSB) is expected to process 244,651mt FFB and produce 53,823mt crude palm oil (CPO).

“Out of the total, 57.54 per cent will be from Keresa Plantation, 4.9 per cent from smallholders and the balance from outside suppliers. We expect to get an average OER of 22 per cent and kernel extraction rate (KER) of 4.5 per cent.”

Building on the sustainable practices of RSPO implantation, the measures taken to adhere RSPO standards in term of sustainability included adopting Best Management Practices such as reducing usage of chemical and encouraging more natural/greener vegetation in the field condition.

Additionally, the effective and timing application of fertiliser, using draught power example buffalo for assisting harvester evacuating FFB and increasing production and zero wastage were measures taken into consideration.

In terms of ecological friendliness, water management, maintaining a good riparian/buffer zone, Integrated Pest Management and training smallholders to become responsible planter added to the key factors in rounding out the RSPO practices.

The planter also practiced a zero burning policy, where it felled the old oil palm trees using excavators, chipped the trunks into small pieces and spread it parallel with planting rows, thus completing the natural organic cycle and eliminating green house gases via burning.

“Since our oil palm trees are still ‘middle aged’, our replanting programme will start in 2021/2022. During the replanting operation, we will improve our standard planting by incorporating sustainable principles,” he highlighted.

Touching on the smallholders, Kumaran said, “Currently, Keresa Plantations has formed Keresa Smallholders Group Scheme (KSGS). In the master plan, we have planned to attract all smallholders that sending FFB to KMSB to participate in this scheme.

“Under this scheme, the participants will get training on field operations, safety procedures on handling and keeping chemicals, assistance scheme of fertiliser and advisory on their field practices.

“Keresa Plantations also organises ‘Open Days’ in collaboration with KMSB and government agencies such as the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).

“By doing so, we are not only encouraging the smallholders of being responsible to the environment but this will also increase our mill’s production of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).”

When asked about the risk management measures the company would take for its own matters and those that pertained to the smallholders in the event of a CPO price decline, he explained that the management of Keresa Plantations practiced ‘prudent financial management’ at all times and the current cost of production was at the lowest possible.

“Total Quality Management Unit monitors the operation cost in the plantation closely. We intend to recruit more smallholders around the plantation to produce/deliver more CSPO to KMSB.

“As for KMSB, we started embarking into Total Productive Maintenance which comprises of Preventive Maintenance and Predictive Maintenance.

“We are always upgrading ourselves with new and emerging technology so that we could upgrade our machineries with better and more cost effective machineries with high efficiencies.

Delving into the much debated topic of traditional seedlings versus engineered clones, Kumaran pointed out that at the moment, genetically modified GM) clones are not available in the market.

“Currently, research is being done by the big players only, therefore GM clones are not being marketed commercially. Keresa Plantations still depends on DXP planting materials from reputable suppliers who produce good quality and high yielding DXP hybrids,” he stated.

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