KUALA LUMPUR: The government is set to make a final decision next year on whether to make the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme mandatory, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said.
He said the government has considered making this certification scheme mandatory for all planters, including smallholders, since last year in order to make the industry more recognised and sustainable.
“Many other countries want to begin their own certification but it won’t be cheap, that’s why I want to encourage Malaysia to have our own certification.
“By next year, we will decide on whether to make MSPO certification mandatory.
“If it’s mandatory, all smallholders will also have to do it. This will take time and money, so I don’t want to make a hasty decision,” he told reporters after opening the Oils and Fats International Congress 2016 yesterday.
Mah said some planters have called for complusory MSPO certification, saying it could enhance the nation’s image, but others are reluctant as they see this certification as expensive and not easy to do.
Mah said currently there are 500,000 smallholders in Malaysia, making the process of getting all of them MSPO certified a difficult task.
Smallholders, including independent smallholders and organised smallholders in land development schemes, account for close to 40 per cent of the country’s oil palm hectarage.
“Some of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) requirements are very difficult for smallholders to meet. I think MSPO is more realistic and practical and it covers nearly 80-90 per cent of the RSPO requirements.
“Some planters have five acres, others have 10 acres under oil palm cultivation. Now we are looking at a way of joining them together into one single cluster and getting them a common certification,” he said, expressing hope that by 2020, all Malaysian planters are MSPO certified.
Earlier in his speech, Mah said about 11 new palm oil certification schemes are being introduced to the European market, a situation which could hurt Malaysia’s palm oil industry in the long run.
This development needs to be taken seriously as the palm oil industry is an important pillar of the Malaysian economy, he said, noting the need to brush off perceptions that palm oil production leads to deforestation.
“They want us to follow their specifications, but I don’t agree. Why do we need to, when we we have our own certification? “In the long term, it would be the way forward as many countries are concerned about our environment, whether we are destroying our forests,” he explained later to the press.
He reiterated Malaysia’s firm commitment to maintaining 50 per cent of its land under forest cover. — Bernama