KUCHING: The federal government is actively increasing its efforts to draw more people, especially Sarawakians, to participate in the oil palm industry to improve their income.
Deputy Minister of Plantations and Commodities Willie Mongin said more focus will be put to help farmers increase their productivity as well as venture into the downstream sector.
He believed the increase in productivity and downstream products will not only help increase the income of the farmers but also sustain their participation in the industry.
At the same time, he said the ministry together with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and Malaysian Oil Palm Council (MPOC) is also actively helping farmers, including independent smallholders in Sarawak, to obtain the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification.
“The problem is with the independent smallholders, of whom many are struggling to adhere to international standards.
“MPOB is intensifying efforts to help independent smallholders through the Sustainable Palm Oil Cluster (SPOC), where under SPOC, independent smallholders will jointly implement Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) in order to qualify for MSPO certification.
“The MSPO certification will guarantee improved productivity and quality of the fruit which in turn contributes to the increase in income of smallholders,” he said in a statement yesterday.
According to Willie, smallholders are divided into two categories – organised smallholders and independent smallholders.
Organised smallholders are the likes of Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra), Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra), which have no issue in complying with MSPO, he pointed out.
Willie, who made a site visit to Sempadi Palm Oil Factory on Monday, reiterated that the government is focused on empowering independent smallholders to increase production and income.
He said the objective would be achieved through the active involvement of independent smallholders in implementing GAP, which is one of the key criteria in implementing MSPO certification for sustainable production.
He noted that the implementation of the MSPO certification was a strategic step to enhance the competitiveness and image of the national oil palm industry to secure the palm oil market overseas.
He said agencies in Malaysia that have achieved 100 per cent MSPO certification are Felda, Salcra, Felcra, Sabah Land Development Board, Sarawak Land Development Board, and Perbadanan Kemajuan Ekonomi Islam Negeri Perak, while South Kelantan Development Authority is still in the process of MSPO certification.