The Role Of Malaysian Palm Oil In Food Security for The Organisation Of Islamic Countries (OIC)

With the advent of food technology and the rise in the demand for food, Malaysian palm oil has grown to become a strong component in the global value chain of food industries. Malaysian palm oil is globally used in the food industry as cooking oil, shortening, margarine, and confectionery fats. It can be found in various products such as vegetable ghee or Vanaspati, salad dressing, ice cream, cheese analog, confectionary non-dairy products such as dairy-free creamer, and others. A total of 75.45 million MT of palm oil is used globally in the year 2020[i]. Its usage was a mere 59.5 million MT in the year 2015/2016, indicating its strong position in meeting the burgeoning global demand.

The majority of OIC members of countries are net importers of oils and fats. The OIC member of countries imported a total of 20.6 million MT of oils and fats, with 57% of this volume was comprising of palm oil[ii].  

Despite numerous challenges, Malaysian palm oil has demonstrated substantial growth and will continue to play a key role in ensuring global food security, especially for the OIC members.

Food Security and its Components  

The Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) crafted the concept of food security in the mid-1970s following the need to ensure availability and price stability of basic foodstuff, domestically as well as internationally.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” (World Food Summit, 1996).

The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) listed four main pillars of Food Security. They are explained as below:

Pillar of Food Security

Description

1)     Accessibility

Access by individuals, to adequate resources for acquiring appropriate food for a nutritious diet. Affordability is a key component in this pillar.

2)     Availability

Availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality supplied through domestic productions or imports. Supply is a key component in this pillar.

3)     Utilization

Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitization, and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being. Food safety and quality are the key components in this pillar.

4)     Stability

Ability to access and utilize food that remains stable and sustained over time. Consistency in the three other pillars is the central theme for this pillar.

The positions of OIC nations in the Food Security Index

Following the definition of food security in the 1996 World Food Summit, the Global Food Security Index was created to assess countries on their respective efforts and performance to attain a desirable Food Security Index. The countries are assessed quantitatively and qualitatively, on the aspects of affordability, availability, and quality in a set of 113 countries.[iii]

From the latest GFSI assessment, several of the members of OIC have reached an admirable score of the Food Security Index. Of the 37 countries of OIC that were assessed, Qatar has the highest score in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) 2021. Qatar is in the 24th ranking from a total of 113 countries. Its Food Security Index Score was 73.6. This was followed by Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates with 30th and 35th ranking, respectively. The Food Security Index of Kuwait was 72.2, meanwhile, the Food Security Index for UAE was at 71.

As a comparison, Qatar had a higher Food Security Index relative to other developed nations such as Spain with the latter’s Index of 73.6. Meanwhile, Kuwait had a better Food Security Index score than Australia (71.6) and South Korea (71.6).  

Below is the ranking of Food Security Index of OIC Nations according to Global Food Security Index (GFSI) 2021[iv].

Rank /113

OIC Nation 

Food Security Index Score

24

Qatar

73.6

30

Kuwait

72.2

35

United Arab Emirates*

71.0

39

Malaysia

70.1

40

Oman

70.0

41

Kazakhstan

69.2

43

Bahrain

68.5

44

Saudi Arabia

68.1

48

Turkey

65.1

49

Jordan

64.6

54

Algeria

63.9

55

Tunisia

62.7

56

Azerbaijan

62.6

57

Morocco

62.5

62

Egypt

60.8

69

Indonesia

59.2

75

Pakistan

54.7

76

Mali

54.5

78

Uzbekistan

53.8

83

Tajikistan

51.6

84

Bangladesh

49.1

85

Burkina Faso

48.1

86

Côte d’Ivoire

48.0

88

Niger

47.6

89

Senegal

47.4

92

Cameroon

45.5

93

Benin

45.2

94

Togo

44.2

95

Uganda

43.9

96

Guinea

43.0

97

Nigeria

41.3

99

Chad

40.6

104

Sierra Leone

38.1

106

Syrian Arab Republic

37.8

110

Sudan

37.1

111

Mozambique

35.9

112

Yemen

35.7

*The United Arab Emirates consists of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah.  

Below is the list of OIC countries that were not included in the assessment by the GFSI:

Afghanistan, Albania, Brunei-Darussalam, Comoros, Djibouti, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyz, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Palestine, Somalia, Suriname, Turkmenistan.

The Potential of Malaysian Palm Oil to Add Value in Food Security Components- Affordability and Utilization

As one of the two global palm oil producers, Malaysia can add value to the OIC nations, in two aspects of Food Security. They are further described below:

a) Affordability of Foods

Palm oil is known as the most cost-efficient edible oil. It provides the highest yield of all edible oilseeds with more than 4 MT for each hectare planted. Its high volume of yield results in optimal cost, subsequently making it a preferred choice for edible oils around the globe. This is particularly valuable for low-income OIC nations.

Malaysia is a developing country and a member of the OIC. Malaysia ranks at the 39th position in the Food Security Index and has an income per capita of USD 11,380.10. Meanwhile, the best performing OIC country in Food Security, Qatar, has an income per capita of USD 65,907.95. Kuwait, ranked at the 30th position in the said Index, has an income per capita of USD 33,399.10.

However, a stark contrast is observed for the five OIC nations with the lowest Food Security Index, as found by GFSI. These countries consist of Yemen, Chad, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Sudan. Their per capita income range from US$503.3 to USD 1268.2.

The average income per capita of the five OIC Nation with the lowest Food Security is shown as below :

Nation

Household per capita income

Food Security Ranking by GFFSI

Mozambique

USD 503.5

111th position

Sierra Leon

USD 534

104th position

Yemen

USD 758.1

112th position

Sudan

USD 825.9

110th position

The Syrian Arab Republic

USD 1268.2

106th position

b) Utilization

In addition to affordability, another crucial component of Food Security is its utilization. It constitutes food safety, nutrients, and quality. This is an aspect that Malaysian palm oil can readily add value to the OIC nations.

Palm oil is an edible oil that is free from trans-fatty acids. Tran-fatty acids are created from a hydrogenation process to solidify the liquid vegetable oils. Consumption of trans-fatty acid is harmful as it increases the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as the bad cholesterol levels. Consumption of trans-fats increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, as well as Type 2 diabetes[v]

Additionally, the processing of Malaysian palm oil involves a stringent and thorough process to ensure that the quality and the nutrients are not affected.

Additionally, Malaysian palm oil is also high in nutrients such as carotenoids (Vitamin A precursor) and Vitamin E. This attribute is particularly valuable for low-income countries. Vitamin A deficiency is rampant in Africa and is most notable in young children and pregnant women in low-income countries. A common effect of Vitamin A deficiency is night blindness and stunted growth. Another detrimental effect of Vitamin A deficiency is maternal mortality and reduced immunity[vi].  Therefore Malaysian palm oil can contribute to reducing Vitamin A deficiency, either from direct use of its cooking oil or with processed foods such as snacks like biscuits that have been fortified with carotenoids A.

Malaysian palm oil is also packed with Vitamin E, a valuable antioxidant.  Vitamin E protects the cells from free radical damage, as well as lowers the production of free radicals. It also enhances immune functions and prevents clots from forming in heart arteries[vii]. Malaysian palm oil can contribute to increasing the intake of Vitamin E with consumption of its cooking oils, as well as Vitamin E supplements and care products that are derived from the fruit.

A report by the FAO in 2021 revealed that the number of undernourished people reached 69 million in the year 2020. This constitutes 15.8% of the population. This was observed in both conflict-affected as well as non-conflict countries, albeit more prominent in the former. It was reported that children in conflict-laded Arab nations suffer a serious nutrient deficiency.  60% of Somalis struggled with hunger, meanwhile, 45% of Yemenis are undernourished. The report also found that 20.5% of Arabs under the age of five years old were stunted. In contrast, 10.7% of children under the age of five years old in Arab nations were found to be overweight in 2020, relative to the global average of 5.7%. Libya, Lebanon, and Syria recorded a worrying trend of overweight children at 25.4%, 19.7%, and 18.2%, respectively. Approximately a third of the region’s population failed to have regular access to sufficient and nutritious food in the year 2020.[viii]

Conclusions

Malaysia is keen to add value to the OIC nations by improving the Food Security of its member nations. The highly nutritious Malaysian palm oil, complemented with its affordability, will be able to uplift the Food Security aspect of OIC nations. Malaysian palm oil has the potential to make a valuable impact, particularly on the OIC nations that will need the most improvements in its Food Security, such as Mozambique, Sierra Leon, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen.

[i] Statista ; Palm Oil Usage Worldwide 2015-2021
[ii] Oil World (2020)
[iii] United Nations Conventions to Combat Desertification
[iv] Economist Impact; Global Food Security Index 2021
[v] American Heart Association https://www.heart.org/
[vi] World Health Organization (WHO) –Nutrition Landscape Information System (NLiS)
[vii] Harvard School of Public Health
[viii] FAO (2021)- Near East and North Africa; Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition; Statistics and Trends

Prepared by Hajar Shamsudin

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