By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By BLOOMBERG
The unused oil palm trunk after the replanting seasons could be used as an alternative source of raw materials for the timber and furniture industry, said Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.
“More than 5.7 million of hectares of palm oil plantation are undergoing replanting process that wastes the tree trunks, and each year thousands them are ready for harvesting and replanting.
“Under the National Oil Palm Trunk Development Plan, we want to expand the use of oil palm trunk as it can be the major source for the furniture industry by 2020,” Mah said on the sidelines of the 14th Export Furniture Exhibition launch in Kuala Lumpur recently.
“Just like the rubberwood, around 30 years ago it was not the preferred material for local manufacturers,” he added.
“Around 80% of the furniture that the locals are producing are woodenbased and a major portion of them are formed of rubberwood.
“However, to maintain the sustainability of our raw materials, we are promoting the use of oil palm trunk as the viable alternative to the rubberwood,” Mah said further.
He noted that there has been progress in the adoption of oil palm trunk by local companies.
“Although it is not much, at the moment there are six local companies that are using palm oil trunk in their saw mills to produce laminated wood,” the minister said.
In December 2017, Mah officiated the Fibre and Biocomposite Centre, a processing and testing service facility that focuses on the commercialising fibre and biocomposite products such as the oil palm trunk.
The RM13.3 million facility is an initiative by the Malaysian Timber Industry Board to counter the shortage of raw materials and high price of rubberwood that is currently faced by the industry.
Mah explained that the government has increased its Import Assistance Programme (IAP) under the Malaysian Timber Council to RM7 million from RM4.6 million, allocated in 2017 in order to facilitate industry players to import raw materials.
In 2017, about RM2 million of the total IAP allocation for 2017 was disbursed.
As the National Timber Industry Policy (Natip) sets to achieve RM12 billion of export by 2020, Mah said manufacturers have to step up their game to achieve the target.
“Industry players have to step up their game as we need an annual increase of RM1 billion in the next two years to achieve the target set by Natip,” he said.