KUCHING: Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) reaffirmed its commitment to the adoption of Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard for the oil palm industry here, with its members agreeing to the compliance and certification at its recent sixth Annual General Meeting.
The MSPO is expected to be officially launched this year and will be the benchmark for the industry for responsible and sustainable development of the palm oil industry.
As previously explained by Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and fully endorsed by Soppoa, the threat of unilateral banning of palm oil from forest or peat areas by environmental non-governmental organisations is both without scientific basis and discriminatory to producers from Malaysia, in particular Sarawak.
“Firstly, there is currently no international or United Nation (UN) framework that supports a no deforestation policy,” Soppoa said.
“Secondly, denying development of agriculture practices infringes on the sovereign rights of states to utilise their own land and condemning them to perpetual poverty.
“Thirdly, such action will jeopardise world food production where demand is growing. Fourthly, it is discriminatory as other competitive food commodities to palm oil are not subjected to similar conditions for production.
“Therefore, denying access of palm oil to international markets is totally unjustifiable and discriminatory towards producers from Malaysia who have been practicing sustainable policies and with the adoption of MSPO is another assurance for international markets for palm oil from Malaysia,” it explained.
Soppoa said it strongly supports the government’s initiative to continue to develop oil palm planting in Sarawak with the objectives of eradicating poverty in rural areas as well as improving the living standard of the rural communities.
“Currently, smallholders in Sarawak numbering over 18,000 involving over 300,000 people, are being considered for assistance by the government to enable them to be certified under MSPO.
“This way, all planters in the state and nation will be able to certified under MSPO which is Malaysia’s assurance of sustainably produced palm oil for the world,” it said.
Towards this development, Soppoa said the government has also allocated funds to educate and assist the smallholders so that all can be certified under the MSPO and to adopt best management practices in the oil palm industry.