Malaysia wants to sell Morocco more palm oil

Malaysia  is keen to export more palm oil to Morocco, as Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok went to great lengths to highlight the benefits of Malaysia’s “golden oil” here Wednesday night.

Speaking at a dinner attended by Moroccan oils and fats industry players, he spared no effort to dispel misconceptions about palm oil.

Besides touting its health benefits, Dompok said palm oil was the world’s most efficient oil-bearing crop in terms of land utilisation and productivity.

“Yet palm oil is more often than not being attacked for land clearing activities when other crops have been doing so for centuries with no end in sight,” he said, taking a swipe at palm oil detractors.
Present at the dinner was Casablanca Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services president Hassane Berkani.

Dompok had flown in from Turkey where he opened the Palm Oil Trade Seminar (POTS) 2009 Turkey organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) in Istanbul, and held talks with relevant Turkish ministers in Ankara.

His mission to increase Malaysia’s palm oil trade continues in this northern African country which imported 9,657 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil and palm oil products valued at RM37.8 million in 2008.

A country of over 31 million people, Morocco is strategically-located at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea and has served as one of the main trading points between Africa and Europe.

Official data showed that Morocco’s oils and fats consumption reached 604,000 tonnes in 2008, with soybean oil topping the list at 418,000 tonnes (69 per cent). Other oils and fats consumed in this country were olive oil at 79,000 tonnes (13 per cent) and sunflower oil at 48,000 tonnes (eight percent).

During January-June 2009, Malaysia exported 6,986 tonnes of palm oil and related products worth RM22.4 million to Morocco.

At the dinner, Dompok pointed out that palm oil was being consumed in more than 150 countries globally.

The Malaysian minister said it was estimated that one out of 10 food products worldwide currently used palm oil as its basic ingredient.

Apart from its food uses, palm oil by-products are often a cheaper yet equally-effective substitute and used in many household products such as soaps, skincare and cosmetic products, fabric detergents and candles, among others.

Dompok told his Casablanca audience that the latest application of palm oil was for biofuel production, a clean and renewable source of energy.

“Nevertheless, in this day and age where international businesses have become the norm and cross-border trades are common, it is indeed sad that palm oil is deemed as a threat to native oils in a number of Western countries.

“This, unfortunately, has resulted in competing oil producers to react with hostility towards palm oil and the subsequent negative publicity regarding its sustainability, which is unfounded,” he said.

Touching on unsubstantiated reports and articles portraying palm oil producers as contributors to deforestation, Dompok said what many people did not realise was that about 64 per cent of Malaysia’s total land area of some 32 million hectares was forested area.

“Compare this to the United Kingdom, for example, where the total forest area is only 2.85 million hectares or 11.8 per cent of its total land area,” he said.

Dompok said the forest area in Malaysia included some of the world’s oldest virgin rainforest despite the Southeast Asian nation being the biggest exporter of palm oil in the world. – Bernama

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