The government and the palm oil industry are committed towards balancing the development of oil palm planted areas and the environment, says Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.
Land to develop oil palm is getting less across the country where about 4.5 million hectares have been alienated to plant it.
Dompok said with that in mind, the way forward is to look at other options such as increasing the yield of the “golden crop”.
“If we can double the yield it will be the same as opening land twice the size that has been alienated,” he said after launching the two-day Orang Utan Conservation Colloquium coordinated by the Borneo Conservation Trust in Tuaran, Sabah, yesterday.
“The importance of this golden crop is reflected by its export contribution. Palm oil is the country’s third largest export contributor with earnings of RM65.2 billion last year and an average of RM47.4 billion for the past three years.
“Taking note of the importance of the industry, its development needs to be harmonised with the demands of nature, in particular balancing the concept of 3Ps, people, planet and profits, for sustainable development,” he said.
He stressed the development of the industry should not be singled out as a primary cause for deforestation, depletion of biodiversity and displacement of endangered species.
“Malaysia has a very large land area which has been gazetted as forest reserve,” he said, adding that 56 per cent or more than half of the land in the country is devoted and kept as forest reserves.
Sabah State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, who was also present, said though industry players should not be solely blamed, they should also avoid providing merely “lip service”.
“Planters need to practise self policing or self regulating of their operations toward ensuring the protection of the biodiversity in their surroundings.
“They may not agree with all the claims made by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) about the environment but I will say this, some merit the attention,” he said, urging industry players to treat NGOs as friends not enemies.
Masidi also said that despite being home to 11,000 orang utans, Sabah should not be proud of the figure as 50 years ago, there were twice the number of the primates in the wild. Source : Business Times by Roy Goh]]>