On May 16, The Star published a letter headlined “Highlight oil palm centennial celebration”.
It was an informative article with descriptions of how the oil palm industry set foot in Malaysia, beginning from a commercial planting at Tennamaram Estate in Kuala Selangor in 1917. The oil palm industry has progressed by leaps and bounds. A three-pronged strategy opted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), namely high income, sustainable development and value addition, has helped the industry to prosper while being one of the main pillars of the country’s economy.
The Malaysian oil palm industry also advocates a zero-waste strategy in their activities, where almost all the biomass or effluence produced are utilised and exploited for their economic potential. This has led to the diverse application of oil palm and palm oil, where the oil palm industry now has significant shares in various economic activities including the food, non-food, health and energy sectors.
When the palm oil consuming nations demand the industry to be sustainable, our oil palm industry answered the call way ahead of the demand. Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) and Code of Practice (COP) which subscribe to sustainability elements were embraced by the industry players in their operations and activities. Now, the consumers, especially those from Europe, are demanding for certification of sustainability. This concern is being addressed. The Government introduced the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification in 2015 where adherence to this standard was on voluntary basis. However by December 2019, all the oil palm industry players must be MSPO certified.
Innovations are the order of the day. The oil palm industry knows that its future lies in technologies and innovations to overcome business challenges. MPOB takes pride in managing and developing new technologies and services for the industry every year. It now has offered more than 600 technologies for commercialisation and adoption by the industry.
The International Competition on Oil Palm Mechanisation (ICOPM) is part of the efforts to promote innovation in the plantation sector. It has entered its third series and for 2017, it is the 100th Malaysian Oil Palm Industry Anniversary Edition. As for the RM300 entrance fee mentioned by the letter writer, it was introduced from the first ICOPM. The fee covers the evaluation and processing costs of ICOPM, and at the same time it encourages only genuine entries for the competition. As such, the time utilised to evaluate and assess all the entries would be spent more effectively, and a commercially-viable innovation will emerge from organising ICOPM.
On the oil palm centenary celebration, publicity drives were embarked since early 2017 to promote public awareness on the importance and contributions of the industry to the country. All the seminars and conferences related to the oil palm industry in 2017 highlight the centenary celebration.
The publications and premium items attributed to the 100th Year Malaysian Oil Palm Industry Anniversary are in the form of coffee table books; special reports in national newspapers; commemorative stamps, first day covers and commemorative coins.
In addition, there will be a special documentary; international photography competition and numerous contests in conjunction with the centenary anniversary.
The official inauguration of the celebration was on May 18 at Tennamaram Estate by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak (pic). It received wide coverage from the media and the event was attended by more than 5,000 people comprising smallholders and plantation workers, industry representatives, ambassadors, high commissioners, locals as well as dignitaries.
The celebrations have just started. More are expected to be rolled out as the government agencies and industry players reflect on the importance of the industry and what to expect in 100 years to come!
Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din
Malaysian Palm Oil Board
(Taken from The Star)