by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
SIME Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) will utilise its high-yielding palm seed, Genome Select, across its plantations beginning 2023 to increase the yields from its acreages.
Its chief research and development officer Dr K Harikrishna (picture) said the improved seedlings will be planted across its oil palm land at a rate of 14,000ha to 15,000ha per year, or 5% of its total oil palm plantation.
“Every year, we replant about 5% of our total land. For example, in Malaysia it is 320,000ha, so we end up replanting about 14,000ha to 15,000ha each year.
“Under the trial period after we did the approval of the concept, we have planted 1,000ha and half of it was planted with Genome Select.
Hopefully, by 2023 all of our replanting areas will use the seed,” he said in Selangor yesterday.
Harikrishna said the Genome Select seed has significantly higher production capability.
“Through the trial, we found the new seed could deliver 11 tonnes of oil production per ha, under an optimal weather condition. But our target is to produce eight to nine tonnes, regardless of the weather condition.
“It also has proven up to 31 tonnes of fruits per ha compared to our current best seed material at 23 tonnes,” he said.
He said the new seed is expected to increase SDP’s palm oil production by 20%, which is more than double of its average yield to date.
Harikrishna added that the new seed can help serve the increasing global demand for food consumption with the world population expected to reach nine billion by 2030.
SDP began its research and development (R&D) on the Genome Select in 2016 and conducted a trial planting of 18,000 seeds. The group received its first “mother palm” in 2018.
Since 2009, SDP has invested more than RM150 million in its R&D and has established one of the largest genotyping laboratories in South-East Asia.
SDP said the genome sequence is also relevant for the cultivation of other crops including dates and coconut.
The group said it is scaling up the production of the Genome Select seeds to meet all of the company’s own replanting needs within the next three years.
“SDP’s research on the genome sequence also provides a much clearer route map to identify genetic markers for traits that will be crucial to the future success of the industry, including climate resilience and disease resistance,” the group said.