KUCHING: The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) will soon make it mandatory for palm oil millers in the state to record the source of fresh fruits bunches (FFB) they buy.
This is a measure mooted by the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities to curb rampant thefts of FFB from plantations in the state.
Its minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said his ministry had come up with this requirement to monitor the source of FFB reaching the mills following a directive from the state government to formulate ways to resolve the problem of FFB thefts from oil palm estates.
“If we can make sure that the source can be identified, then we will know whether it is from legal or illegal source,” he said at a press conference after chairing a meeting with state oil palm millers and FFB dealers at a leading hotel yesterday.
Uggah warned that stern action would be taken by the MPOB against millers or dealers who purchase illegal FFB.
“We must take stern action and won’t hesitate to refuse renewal or cancel the licence of both the millers and the FFB dealers if they are found to continue to buy illegal FFB in the future.
“We believe that the stealing will stop when the buying stops because if the dealers and millers are not buying the illegal FFB, then there’s no point in stealing them.”
He added that the state had also formed a taskforce to coordinate with his ministry and other federal agencies in stopping FFB thefts as soon as possible.
FFB thefts in the state had reached a worrying level that threatens the reputation of the state’s oil palm industry.
Uggah said last year 304 cases were reported to the police, an increase from 289 cases reported in 2012.
“In addition to the reported cases, there are also other incidents which have not been reported so the figure can actually be higher than reported.
“The incidents of FFB theft in Sarawak has reached its tipping point, which is threatening the reputation of the oil palm industry as well as affecting the image of our state,” he said.
Around 180 FFB dealers and 65 oil palm millers attended the meeting held to discuss ways and means to resolve ongoing FFB theft issues in the state.
“Our target is that by the end of this year, we hope that most of these theft issues can be resolved so that in 2015, I think the number of occurrence can be reduced,” he said.
Uggah was confident that this could be achieved with cooperation from all parties involved. Meanwhile, MPOB Sarawak regional head Sulim Lumong disclosed that of the 304 reported cases, 177 were from Mukah, 120 from Marudi and seven from Bintulu.
“A total of 20 estates with an estimated 15,000 acres have been identified to be affected with illegal harvesting of FFB,” he said.
Source : The Borneo Post