By NUR HANANI AZMAN / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has called for the adoption of advanced oil palm cultivation tools to increase the average yield of oil palm in Malaysia.
MPOB DG Dr Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir (picture) said although the productivity of palm oil has increased over the years, the national average yield has remained stagnant in comparison with other vegetable oil crops such as soybean and rapeseed.
“It is high time for us to implement advanced biotechnological, breeding and cloning tools that will enable the development of superior planting materials, which will improve disease resistance, higher oil quality traits, resilient to climate change and most importantly, increase yield.
“We need to adopt the best agronomic practices to further improve efficiency and productivity,” he said at the two-day Mini Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) 2021 held both virtually and physically in Bangi, Selangor, recently.
The PAC comprises scientists and experts involved in palm oil research.
Ahmad Parveez said MPOB is focusing on four priority research areas, namely yield performance, sustainable development, mechanisation and automation, and food safety and nutrition to improve the efficiency of the palm oil industry.
He said the PAC members, with their expertise and vast knowledge on oils and fats, will look in detail at strategic research projects and issues to find practical solutions to reconcile differences between the oil palm industry and its critics.
The industry has come under fire in recent years on various issues and concerns that involve land-use change, biodiversity and conservation efforts, deforestation, and pollution of water, air and land. Ahmad Parveez said such concerns have resulted in more stringent regulations and requirements on sustainability and good agricultural practices, which make smallholders economically less competitive.
“We should assess a well- balanced approach to fulfil the sustainability requirement for the oil palm industry,” he said.
Other pertinent issues that were deliberated upon during the meeting were the research and development recommendations to mitigate the 3-monochloro-propanediol esters (3-MCPDE) and glycidyl esters (GE) issues.
He said MPOB has carried out many studies and trials to address the processed contaminants related to 3-MCPDE and GE in palm oil.
“The European Commission’s proposal for different levels for 3-MCPDE —1.25ppm for soft oils including palm kernel oil and 2.5ppm for other oils including palm oil — is itself a discrimination to palm oil as it creates an impression that palm oil has lower quality and inferior to soft oils,” he said.
Ahmad Parveez said the PAC members will also find ways to effectively design and develop revolutionary technologies and innovations for upstream operations.
“This includes finding better and innovative ways to harvest and process oil palm fruits. We should look into enhancing mechanisation, precision agriculture and automation, particularly in the upstream sector,” he said.
MPOB has developed more than 40 types of machinery and mechanised equipment for the use of plantation operations, including oil palm-harvesting tools.