TELUK INTAN: Journalists from France and Belgium visited the United Plantations’ Jenderata Estate here to learn how Malaysian oil palm plantations are run.
They arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday on a five-day educational programme, organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) to give writers from Europe, particularly from France where anti-palm oil sentiment runs high, a chance to experience the goings-on of the local palm oil industry.
At Jenderata Estate, United Plantations vice-chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Carl Bek-Nielsen and executive director Martin Bek-Nielsen hosted the visitors, fielding questions on topics that ranged from labour to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification.
For most of the writers, this was their first time at an oil palm plantation.
They witnessed RSPO-compliant measures currently in place in many of Malaysia’s major oil palm plantations, including the use of integrated pest management and self-sufficiency in meeting the estate’s energy needs through steam power and biogas generated from waste materials.
Despite a generally positive response towards United Plantations’ management practices, some of the participants said that they wanted visits to other plantations, including those owned by smallholders, in order to form a more balanced perspective.
“This was first contact. We know this plantation is the best example we can see on this topic.
“However, we also want to meet other people and get other points of view,” said Remi Barroux, an environment correspondent from the French daily, Le Monde. Barroux plans to stay on in the country for an extra week to conduct additional research.
The five-day programme includes meetings with a professor from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sabah as well as smallholder farms in Sungai Manila, Sandakan.
The visiting party comprises one journalist from Belgium and 13 from France.
Source : The Star