BINTULU (Oct 29): The number of Sustainable Palm Growers Cooperatives (KPSMs) in Sarawak is still not encouraging, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Sri Fadillah Yusof.
According to him, from the total 69 cooperatives established nationwide recorded as at Sept 30 this year, only 18 are in Sarawak with total membership of 3,955 smallholders, compared to 46,325 licensed smallholders cultivating oil palm plantations.
“I urge those who are yet to become a member to immediately join the cooperative.
“The districts that have yet to have one can set up the cooperatives, which can help increase income of and take care of the smallholders, and develop our oil palm industry.
“The total membership for KPSM Daerah Tatau Berhad is 238 people, versus the number of smallholders in Tatau, at 943 people,” he spoke at the launch of ‘Program Pemantapan MSPO Pekebun Kecil Negeri Sarawak’ and Pusat Timbang KPSM Daerah Tatau Berhad yesterday.
Fadilah, also Plantations and Commodities Minister, said for the 69 KPSMs, where the weighing centre would produce 401 tonnes monthly, generally 8,337 smallholders had benefitted from the existence of KPSM with better prices offered to growers for fresh bunches.
“In order to encourage the replanting of old palm trees that have passed 25 years, the government has announced an allocation of RM100 million under Budget 2024 as an incentive for the smallholders.
“We will give 50 per cent grants and another 50 per cent as a loan that will only be paid in the fifth year,” he said.
According to Fadillah, Malaysia palm oil gets high demand from countries like China and India due to its sustainability and high quality.
“Our country cannot afford to export everything; for example, India wants to increase its import of CPO (crude palm oil) from three million to six million metric tonnes.
“We cannot give everything to them, because we also need it in our country to produce downstream products.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) in a statement said a total of 32 Sustainable Palm Oil Clusters (SPOCs) in Sarawak involving 37,945 oil palm independent smallholders with an area of 213,607 hectares, were successfully certified with Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) as at Sept 30 this year.
For the whole country, under the same period, a total of 162 SPOCs involving 197,409 oil palm independent smallholders with an area of 740,628 hectares had received MSPO certification.
Smallholders under the SPOCs area are assisted by the MPOB Extension Officers (Tunas) to implement good agricultural practices and subsequently, implement the MSPO certification in their respective plantations.
MPOB has opened 12 Tunas offices in Sarawak that provide oil palm cultivation advisory services and the transfer of technology to smallholders without cost.