Up to 96% of oil palm estates in Malaysia MSPO-certified
Ahmad Parveez / Amin

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

ABOUT 96% of the country’s 4.06 million hectares (ha) of oil palm land have obtained the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification until June 30 this year.

Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) DG Dr Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir (picture) said following the issuance of a warning letter on Feb 12, 2020, the achievement of the MSPO certification implementation for the estate category is substantial.

“A number of 3,040 estates or 96.04% comprising 4,064,895ha had obtained MSPO certificate. Even as many as 400 oil mills or 88.5% have been MSPO certified,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Ahmad Parveez also said based on the mandatory implementation of the MSPO certification from Jan 1 this year, owners of oil palm estates and factories that have not begun the certification process will have legal actions taken against them beginning July 1.

Actions such as termination or suspension of licence will take place after a follow up by MPOB starting Jan 1, 2021.

“As provided under the MPOB (Licensing) 2005 regulation No 15, MPOB may take legal action against the industry including smallholders who have not yet begun the MSPO certification process, or are certified with MSPO.

“MPOB enforcement actions include issuing warnings, legal actions and ultimately suspension or revocation of licence,” he added.

The MSPO certification has been mandatory from Jan 1, 2020, in line with the government’s announcement on Feb 24, 2017.

The mandatory implementation aims to enhance the image of the country’s palm oil in terms of sustainability, while fulfilling the demand for certified palm oil in global markets beginning this year.

According to MPOB, smallholders are divided into two categories, namely private and organised smallholders.

“As of May 31, 2020, 62,009 private smallholders with 243,666ha (24.82%) of land and 231,576 organised smallholders with an area of 670,010 -ha (99.07%) have been certified.

“Based on the achievement rate of MSPO implementation among smallholders, especially the private smallholders which is still at 24.82%, MPOB extended the mandatory period of MSPO implementation for smallholders for six months until June 30, 2020. Effective July 1, 2020, it is mandatory for all smallholders to be MSPO certified,” he said.

Ahmad Parveez said warning letters will be issued beginning Jan 1, 2021 followed by legal actions on July 1, 2021 onwards.

“Beginning Jan 1, 2022, smallholders that have not started the MSPO certification process will have their licence suspended or terminated,” he reiterated.

He added that the extension of implementation period of the mandatory MSPO certification to private smallholders is based on several considerations including the poor commitment and land-related issues.

“Private smallholders are faced with several issues such as real estate exchange other than oil palm, issue of land ownership exchange and other land-related issues that take a long time to be completed to ensure it meets the MSPO certification requirements, as well as conditions imposed by the state government.

“Besides, there are also difficulties in contacting some of the private smallholders who do not run their own estates full-time following the area supervision ratio of an MPOB Tunas officer with a large number of smallholders of over 1,000 people,” Ahmad Parveez said.

The government has allocated an MSPO incentive fund to lessen the burden borne by the palm oil industry players in meeting the requirements of the MSPO certification.

Only those who successfully obtain the certification or begin the process of certification before Jan 1, 2020, are eligible for the incentives.

All certification costs beginning this year will have to be borne by the industry players themselves without government incentives.