‘Educate Consumers on Sustainable Production’

MALAYSIA’s bid to achieve results in sustainable palm oil production will be successful only if consumers support the drive by accepting they have to pay more for a greener product, according to the Minister of Plantation, Industries and Commodities, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

He said talks with producers had revealed that large quantities of sustainable oil were left on the shelves.

“The buyers who consume palm oil need to be educated that they need to do more than pay lip-service to sustainability,” he said.

Dompok was talking exclusively to Oxford Business Group (OBG), the global publishing, research and consultancy firm. The interview with him appears in OBG’s business guide on the country, The Report: Malaysia 2009.

The report also features an interview with Mohd Basri Wahid, director-general, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).

The minister voiced his optimism that the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which was formed five years ago, will provide an ideal platform for educating consumers on sustainable production.

Seven parties from the palm oil industry are represented on the RSPO, which aims to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

The plantations sector has long been a staple of Malaysia’s economy and is central to the country’s development, with palm oil overtaking rubber in significance.

However, the government faces the challenge of finding a balance between defending palm oil’s corner while promoting sustainable development to ensure production conforms to international standards.

The RSPO is expected to play a pivotal role in helping the sector develop sustainability and tackle environmental issues as it moves forward.

Dompok said he was confident that the RSPO will find an effective way of educating consumers, if it made the most of its wide representation across the sectors and pooled resources to produce a strategy.

“This is a multi stakeholder roundtable and therefore a lot of these people involved in the industry, whether producers, buyers of palm oil or NGOs interested in sustainability issues, need to work together,” he said.

The Report: Malaysia 2009 is a valuable source of information for foreign direct investment into Malaysia’s economy and a guide to the many facets of the country, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, political landscape, banking and sectoral developments. It is available in print form or online.

Source : Business Times

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