KUCHING: Sarawakian oil palm planter Keresa Plantations Sdn Bhd (Keresa Plantations) has seen improved efficiency as well as productivity in fresh fruit bunch (FFB) output thanks to guidance from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as well as co-operative efforts with smallholders.
Keresa Plantations, a subdivision of Limar Group, started operations in 1996 and currently has a landbank of 6,023 hectares (ha) in Labang district between Bintulu and Belaga.
At a media conference, Keresa Plantations chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leonard Linggi Jugah revealed, “Last year, we produced 134,673 metric tonnes (mt) of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) with a yield 25.9 tonnes per hectare per year.
“Sarawak’s average is 18mt per ha per year and national average is 19mt per ha per year so Keresa Plantations is slightly above the industry average in terms of yield. This is possible because we are small and we want to maximise efficiency in managing our plantation and running it professionally,” he said.
“We built a mill in 2007 running at a capacity of 45mt per hour which we have upgraded to 60mt per hour.
“We are also constructing another mill to be completed by December this year at a cost of RM60 million.
“When we started planting, the local Iban community wanted to follow suit. We decided to assist them by providing seedlings, fertiliser as well as generate employment and economic opportunities for them.
“That is very important to us because it gives us a good relationship with the local people and we have a good rapport with them,” he noted.
To maximise the productivity of the plantation, the company approached the RSPO whose guidance and requirements helped it to improve sustainability, help the local people within the area and gave it added advantage once it was RSPO certified.
Keresa Plantations was the first Sarawak-based company to have its mill certified by RSPO and with regards to this, Linggi said the certification had provided the company with a competitive advantage and opened up new markets.
Managing director of Keresa Plantations Graeme Brown remarked, “We are seeing the benefits of certification. Being RSPO certified has allowed us to communicate clearly to our consumers that we produce palm oil that is environmentally friendly and socially just.”
Representing RSPO was secretary general Darrel Webber who noted, “Companies like Keresa Plantations are one such example of how Sarawak should transform its cultivation of oil palm to sustainable standards in order to remain ahead of global trends and competition concurrently with responsible and conscientious practices.”
Certification under RSPO standards began in 2008 and since then the production of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) attained a share of 11 per cent of global crude palm oil.
Malaysia leads the global community as the world’s largest CSPO producer, commanding 48 per cent, leading other producing countries namely Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, South America and West Africa.