Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Planters rap palm oil board over R&D

Wednesday October 15, 2008 The StarOnline, Malaysia

Planters rap palm oil board over R&D


They say MPOB must play key role in research and development
SIBU: The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has been lambasted for not serving the palm oil sector effectively and failing to carry out its original role as the premier research and development (R&D) institution for the industry.

The MPOB should seriously look into doing R&D as its core operation similar to what the Rubber Research Institute is doing for the rubber industry, some industry players said.

The dissatisfaction over MPOB’s current operations was brought up at the four-day Agriculture Crop Trust 2008 (ACT 2008) seminar on oil palm cultivation, officiated yesterday by Sarawak’s deputy chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr Alfred Jabu.

“MPOB should serve the local palm oil industry players well given the fact that planters had to pay high cess to the board annually,” said Dr Paramananthan, the organising chairman of ACT 2008.

Based on a recent study, the total cess payable from Sarawak oil palm companies alone to MPOB from June 2007 to July 2008 amounted to about RM280.2mil.

A source told StarBiz that the MPOB had turned into a commercially-driven entity instead of focusing on its role as an R&D body for the palm oil industry.

Sarawak timber giant Ta Ann group, which is also actively involved in oil palm plantations, said industry players in Sarawak were hoping that the Federal Government would use taxes and cess collected from the sector to finance R&D efforts because many companies had been spending significant sums of their profits on R&D.

“The industry should execute a concerted national R&D strategy to stay ahead of competition,” said Datuk Abdul Hamed Sepawi, Ta Ann’s executive chairman. “Provisions should be made availabe from taxes and cess to sponsor research initiatives, in order to sustain and upgrade the industry R&D capabilities especially when the CPO prices are down.”
Meanwhile Jabu said Sarawak had targeted for one million hectares of land in the state to be planted with oil palm by 2010.

“If this materialises, we might set a new target of three million hectares by 2020,” the deputy chief minister told reporters at the launch of ACT 2008.
As at June, the total area planted with oil palm in Sarawak is 725,159ha.
Sarawak is currently the third largest oil palm state in Malaysia after Sabah and Johor.