Seize Jobs in the Oil Palm Industry, Urges Nasrun

Lahad Datu: The people of Sabah are urged to seize job and business opportunities in the oil palm industry as the State government seeks to industrialise and value-add to the sector. “(These opportunities) are literally in your backyard,” said Silam Member of Parliament Datuk Nasrun Datu Mansur. “If you are not, then try to make sure that your next generation do not miss out.”

Nasrun, who is also Chairman of State-owned POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, was officiating the Lahad Datu District Level Bio Art Competition 2015 at the State Library here.

POIC Sabah is developing the Lahad Datu palm oil industrial cluster (POIC Lahad Datu). The inaugural competition, organised with the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation, the State Education Department and State Library, encourages participants to use oil palm-related materials, including wastes, to create drawings and crafts.

Primary and secondary schools as well as the pre-schoolers aged 5-6 took part in the competition, which will be held in other districts later in the year.

POIC Sabah Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dr Pang Teck Wai said the company hopes to take the competition nationwide to spread the message about the importance and versatility of oil palm.

The Bio Art competition was first unveiled at the 4th BioBorneo conference and exhibition in Kota Kinabalu on April 20.

The oil palm industry has traditionally been about the crude palm oil it produces and oil palm companies’ primary focus has been on oil. “But there is now a growing awareness about the manufacturing potentials of oil palm biomass that makes the waste ultimately more valuable than the oil,” said Pang.

He added that the proposed refinery cluster at POIC Lahad Datu will leverage Lahad Datu’s strategic location and it being in the heart of oil palm country.

“We see Lahad Datu growing into a global hub for bio refining.”

Oil palm biomass includes empty fruit bunches, mesocarp fibres, palm kernel shells, palm oil mill effluent (POME), fronds and trunks. While fronds and trunks come from the plantations, the others are from oil palm mills.

The Federal government, through the National Biomass Strategy 2020, has identified Sabah as the hub for the development of biomass, which can be turned into second generation biofuel and a host of bio-based chemicals.

Malaysia is currently in the forefront of developing graphene from methane, a greenhouse gas produced in huge quantities from POME.

Graphene, the inventors of which won the Nobel Prize about a decade ago, has been described as a ‘miracle material’ which has the potential of ‘changing the face of manufacturing’ because it is ‘harder than diamond and thinner than a human hair’.

Malaysia’s Felda Global Ventures recently acquired UK-based Cambridge Nanosystems Ltd which owns a patented process to produce graphene.

At a recent seminar in Kuala Lumpur hosted by MIDA (Malaysia Investment Developemt Authority) on the carbon-based material, participants were asked to ‘imagine a smart phone or a TV screen than can be bent, tyres that last but won’t heat up and aircraft wings that can be de-iced at the press of a button’.

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