SIBU: A group of small-time oil palm planters from the Central Zone is appealing to the Ministry of Primary Industries for assistance to overcome the adverse situation due to current low prices of the commodity.
These smallholders recently held a dialogue session with Malaysian Palm Oil Board representatives to look into the problems, particularly over the drop in fresh fruit bunch (FFB) prices in Sarawak.
The dialogue was coordinated by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sibu.
Coordinator of the dialogue session George Chen, said PKR and DAP had received many requests from the smallholders to have such a dialogue session held.
Among the topics brought up at the dialogue were the Certification of Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO); Good Agriculture Practices in order to fetch higher Oil Extraction Rate (OER); simplification of foreign workers recruitment; MPOB scheme; licences to construct, build small oil palm mills for proximity; resolving logistics and transportation issues; waiver of the sales and service tax (SST); issues regarding the usage of bio-diesel and the construction of more farm roads.
Pelawan assemblyman David Wong said there is a need for an association to represent all the small-time oil palm planters in Sarawak.
“Today, because we do not have an association, some of the voices are lost. I hope that smallholders in Sibu and in the central region can set up an association to speak up for all the small-time planters,” he added.
Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang, on the other hand, pointed out that the challenges and the problems that the small holders are facing could not be resolved immediately.
“However, we (PKR and DAP) will make sure that the voices of the small-time oil palm planters could reach the authority,” she assured.