MPOCC: Only 25% oil palm plantations are MSPO-certified

An alarming situation for the commodity which has already been fighting discriminations in Western countries

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By TMR

The country’s palm oil exports could be jeopardised in the medium term as only 25% of the total oil palm plantations are currently certified with the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) status — an alarming situation for the commodity which has already been fighting discriminations in Western countries.

Only 1.4 million ha or 25% of the country’s total palm oil planted areas are certified with MSPO, said Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) president Datuk M Nagarajan.

“The country has a total planted area of 5.8 million ha and 25% have been certified with MSPO, while the remaining 75% are works in progress.

“Malaysia exports 85% of our local palm oil production and what we need right now is to be certified to meet overseas demand. They (foreign countries) want to see that we are producing sustainable products,” Nagarajan told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Nagarajan — who served as the secretary general of the Primary Industries Ministry between 2016-2017 — said the ministry’s target for all oil palm plantations to be MSPO-certified by 2020 will be an arduous task to fulfil.

A realistic target will be 90% MSPO-certified plantations by next year, he added.

“We are being realistic with the target and I don’t think we can get 100% certification by 2020.

“To get a piece of land certified, it requires a long process of three to six months. If they just start the certification process now, they will only be certified in September,” he explained.

To date, only 10% of the oil palm plantations operated by smallholders are certified with MSPO. Smallholders consist of some 40% of the total plantation area.

“Some of the smallholders’ land is being managed by contractors and the owners are not actually aware of this (MSPO), while the contractors are there just to crop the plantation and not bother about certification.

“So now, we are trying to do it differently, as we have asked the millers to involve and educate the smallholders on the certification,” he said.

Nagarajan added that the government will continue facilitating local planters in getting their oil palm plantations to achieve global sustainability standards.

“It is a journey we must take to convince the global market and reiterate that Malaysian palm oil is being produced in a sustainable manner.

“MPOCC, along with other palm-oil related agencies, will definitely continue to help smallholders and planters to get certified.

“We will provide a certain amount of time for those who have passed the mandatory timeline for their certification to be processed next year,” he said.