Since the formation of SOPPOA, 12 years ago on the 11th December 2008, the association has grown and transformed into a premier plantation organization in Sarawak as well as in Malaysia which is widely regarded as one of the key body spearheading the development of the palm oil sector in Sarawak.
In Sarawak, it has 99 registered memberships comprising of the majority of plantation companies of various sizes, including government agencies and independent small holders. SOPPOA’s members spans over the whole of Sarawak covering almost 1.02 million hectares of oil palm, 58 mills, 4 refineries, 1 biodiesel plant.
The capital outlay and current value of member companies actually run into just over a 100 billion ringgit which covers the upstream, midstream and downstream activities of the industry and which ranks 2nd in jobs creation after the Government sector in Sarawak. Oil palm plantations in Sarawak produce 4.24 million metric tonnes of crude palm oil and generate an income of RM 8.9 billion for year 2019 of which 55 .2 % are returned to the government in the form of taxes and levees over the gross PBIT, a reliable government revenue provider despite of global financial and economy crisis over the years.
The constitutional structure of SOPPOA comprises a fully elected Executive council with strong stewardships starting from Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi, Chairman of Ta Ann Group of Companies as its inaugural Chairman to current Chairman, Mr. Tiong Chiong Ong, an Executive Director of Rimbunan Sawit, one of the largest oil palm companies in Sarawak. The council is run by a secretariat team by a professional Chief Executive Officer with sound knowledge of the plantation industry. SOPPOA secretariat is also technically supported by 5 Heads of Committees overseeing Government Affairs, Human Resources, Research & Development, Sustainability and Media /communication and 2 senior Advisors and a chartered accountant consultant firm.
SOPPOA fully support government’s policy in sustainable oil palm development and has achieved a credible 94% Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil or MSPO certification as well as attaining 62 entities of Supply Chain Certification Standards or SCCS is a clear indication of its full commitment to protect humanity and the environment in its sustainable business undertakings. SOPPOA strongly uphold the value of `No Deforestation, No new Peat plantings and No exploitation of its employees ‘or NDPE and advise members to be duly practicing at all times.
SOPPOA biggest challenge today is the set-backs posed by the current COVID 19 pandemic and the economic meltdown that follows has limited operations and normal production. Plantation sector being an essential service still continue to operate to keep the country food security stable by supplying the much-needed food and non-food products derived from palm oil for the nation as well as exports and play a vital role in continuing to provide much needed plantation jobs to the public. SOPPOA appreciates and extend its gratitude to SDMC and MKN for allowing the plantations to continue operations with conditions. The move to self-locked down by SOPPOA with strict inhouse SOPs apart from the government SOPs had played an important role to prevent COVID 19 spread and proven effective so far. In time of need and national service, as part of CSR, SOPPOA also took the initiative to raise RM530,000 to the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee to assist COVID 19 prevention and help the poor and needy through the generosity of its members.
SOPPOA has played an important role and pledge it will continue to work closely with all related government agencies as it has representatives in various government agencies to support the government policies in providing feedbacks, proposals, fiscal planning and development. In Sarawak, SOPPOA is considered the backbone of the state agricultural sector especially for agro-commodity activities, knowledge and expertise is concerned and work in solidarity and tandem with the government by regularly and actively participating as stakeholder with various state agencies, notably MANRED, TROPI, DOA, NRED MUDeNR, SEAC and others to support, give inputs, chart out or formulate, proposals, strategies to synergize government policies, planning and implementation.
At the federal Government level, much engagement was carried with the federal Ministry`s agencies by representing Sarawak oil palm plantations in all matters affecting the plantations by sitting in important making decision steering committees or as stakeholder invitation with MPOB, MPOC, MPOCC, MOHR, DOE, KDN, MIDA, & MITI etc. Matters relating to policies, licensing, marketing, promoting, certification & compliances, trainings, research & development, funding, commercialization of projects, mechanization & automation, strategic and fiscal planning and forefront wise resolving SOPPOA members issues. Sarawak plantations conditions are unique and SOPPOA always play a key role in conveying and showcasing its issues, concerns and provide solutions. Periodically the association also made press releases to voice the plantation opinions and provide facts to highlight and protect the interests of its members and address pertinent issues including constructive recommendations in line with the ultimate aim to advance the Sarawak palm oil industry in a sustainable manner.
SOPPOA works in close partnership with other plantation associations such as MPOA, EMPA, POMA, PORAM, MEOA, NASH, SALCRA and DOPPA and other stakeholders to have common goals and aspirations on a win-win approach with regards to the betterment and advancement of the plantation industry. SOPPOA is also a council member and plays a part of the well recognize Sarawak Business Federation which represent more than 80 % of the business in Sarawak and certainly a` voice’ in Sarawak business community and abroad. SOPPOA members collaborate with TROPI, MPOB, DOA, MPC on R&D works especially on issues of low yields, P & D, peat soils, pollination, palm nutrition, mechanization, other digital technologies to enhance the yields and resolve these issues apart from ongoing other negotiations and collaboration with local universities and institute of higher learning to pursuit technology and knowledge advancements. Seminars, forums and trainings were also held to update members on R&D advancements and commercial applications.
The association regularly engages with related Federal Ministers, YAB Chief Minister and YB Deputy Chief Ministers were also made a need basis to highlight unresolved issues with government agencies by giving proposals with valid justifications or working papers which bring benefits the government, the plantation operators and the public. In some cases, such legislative matters on SOPPOA appeals were even brought to a sitting Parliament by the YB Ministers for debate and resolve which is greatly appreciated.
The wellbeing of the plantation industry and its interests are actively pursued and advanced by SOPPOA which is thriving and gaining momentum with more new members joining the fold to support this association in its mission to ensure continued growth and success of the Sarawak palm oil industry.
The 12 years of growth of Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association coming 11th December 2020 augurs well for SOPPOA members and couldn’t have come a better time with rising crop production and favorable CPO prices of Rm 3000-3300 per metric ton even amidst a pandemic. The pandemic is still well under control in Sarawak under the good hands of SDMC.