KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 (Bernama) -- The Plantation and Commodities Ministry is developing a National Biomass Action Plan covering five sectors comprising plantation, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and forestry, and is expected to be completed by July 2023.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Plantation and Commodities Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said his aspiration for the ministry is to have a sustainable circular economy within these sectors.
“This is by the systematic use and processing of biomass into high-value-added products which could generate additional income to the industry as a whole,” he said in his keynote address at the Palm and Lauric Oils Price Outlook Conference and Exhibition 2023 (POC2023) here, today.
Elaborating to the press, Fadillah said as biomass comprises various items, it needs to be studied how the leftovers could be processed into food, fertilisers, energy and so on.
“We need to have the relevant data because from that data, then we know what to use, how to use and so on.
“Besides, the ministry is also looking into how to help the smallholders increase their income and be more sustainable by combining their forces into zoning or joint-ventures that are more economical and able to monitor them in terms of traceability and good practices,” he said.
Fadillah said one of the high-impact projects that would be embarked on by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) within the 12th Malaysia Plan would be the production of lignocellulose from biomass that could be utilised in various sectors such as food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics.
Meanwhile, the minister also urged the industry to focus more on technological advancement within the agri-commodity sector by investing and developing cutting-edge solutions to boost the use of mechanisation and automation, given the stable palm oil price that has contributed to higher profits so far.
During the Budget 2023 tabling on Feb 24, 2023, the government announced that it would provide RM50 million in matching grants to promote automation in the plantation sector through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.
On the issue of the European Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR), which listed palm oil as one of the commodities that drive deforestation, Fadillah said the government and the industry are not taking the issue lightly and are working hand in hand to counter this negative campaign and unfair narrative, which is viewed as nothing less than an attempt at creating another trade barrier for palm oil.
“We are even joining forces with other palm oil-producing countries to ensure our palm oil is not grossly misrepresented.
“That said, Malaysia’s palm oil industry must continue its ongoing efforts to ensure that palm oil production does not negatively impact environmental wellbeing.
“It is also pertinent for the Malaysian palm oil industry to continue to support the production of sustainable palm oil, in particular, the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO), in line with world demand,” he said.
As at Jan 31, 2023, Fadillah noted that the uptake of MSPO has been well received by the industry, as more than 97 per cent of oil palm planted areas and more than 98 per cent of palm oil mills in Malaysia have been MSPO-certified.
In 2022, Malaysia produced 18.45 million metric tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO), an increase of 1.9 per cent from 2021 at 18.12 million metric tonnes.
The total revenue of palm oil and other palm-based products in 2022 stood at RM135 billion, up 24.4 per cent, compared with RM108.52 billion in 2021 due to higher export prices in 2022.
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