Don: Efficient R&D crucial for palm oil to extend global presence

Kuala Lumpur – An efficient research and development (R&D) operation is crucial for palm oil to maintain and extend its global presence as the industry moves into increasingly uncertain environment wth economic dislocation and climatic changes.

Professor Denis J. Murphy from the University of Glamorgan said there were several major unresolved issues related to the biological aspects of oil palm R&D.

These include the environment context of oil palm cultivation, which encompasses numerous complex areas of science and policy making.

“One example is encouraging plantation biodiversity that is consistent with maintaining a sustainable level of production,” Murphy said at the 6th International Planters Conference organised by The Incorporated Society of Planters (ISP) yesterday.

He said the oil palm cropping system had unique advantage over annual oilseed crops such as soybean, rapeseed or sunflower, thanks to its year-round harvesting and multi-decade productive lifetime.

In addition, the oil palm has only just begun to benefit from modern high-tech breeding and selection techniques.

Earlier, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said the current low crude palm oil (CPO) price of RM2,350 per tonne was a reflection of potentially higher production months ahead.

Even the Malaysian Palm Oil Board recently has revised downward its annual CPO production this year to 17.5 million tonnes from its earlier estimate of 17.7 million tonnes.

Dompok was speaking to reporters after officiating at the conference and witnessing the signing of two MoUs between ISP and Malaysian Palm Oil Council, and ISP with Felda Plantations Sdn Bhd yesterday.

CPO production growth in Malaysia was expected to stay weak for the next two years due to an aggressive replanting scheme and hot weather, which would aggravate yield stress in oil palm trees, industry observers said.

Meanwhile, ISP chief executive officer Azizan Abdullah said the international conference managed to attract close to 800 participants from Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Netherlands.

More pertinent issues linked to sustainability and environment would be discussed today by key speakers from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Sime Darby Bhd, Indonesian Palm Oil Board and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Source : The Star by Hanim Adnan

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