Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Planters unhappy with moves to add extra condition for RSPO certification

Tuesday April 6, 2010

Planters unhappy with moves to add extra condition for RSPO certification

By JACK WONG The Star, Malaysia

KUCHING: Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners’ Association (SOPPOA) is unhappy over moves by some Western non-governmental organisations to include greenhouse gas emissions on plantation development on peatland in Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) principles and criteria for certification.

Chairman Datuk Abdul Hamed Sepawi sees this proposed additional condition as putting more pressures on Sarawak’s plantation owners as they prepare for the certification exercise.
He said a RSPO consultant had recommended a total ban on oil palm development on peatland while another group wanted to ban palm oil entering the European Union’s bio-diesel programme.

“I am sure these actions will become ever bigger this year,” Hamed said in a report to the association’s recent AGM.

RSPO is a global, multi-stakeholders initiative on sustainable palm oil. Its principal objective is to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through cooperation with the supply chain and open dialogue between its stakeholders.

Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia that grows oil palm on peatland. It has an estimated 1.6 million ha of peatland suitable for oil palm cultivation.

Based on Malaysia Palm Oil Board’s (MPOB) data, the total area planted with oil palm in Sarawak is 750,000ha, of which more than 50%, or about 400,000ha, is peatland.
Activists fighting the global climate change are reportedly worried about emission of greenhouse gases when peatland is opened up for plantation development.

Hamed said Sarawak oil palm growers had forged a close working relationship with their Indonesian counterparts, and had signed memorandums of collaboration with the Indonesian Palm Oil Association, Association of Plantation Investors of Malaysia in Indonesia and Indonesian Oil Palm Sameholders Association.

He said SOPPOA had similar tie-ups with Malaysian Palm Oil Association and Federal Land Development Authority.

“This international relationship has proven to be vital as together we can manage our opponents successfully. I anticipate a lot of mutual benefits will come from such collaboration,” he added.

Urging SOPPOA members to be committed towards a sustainable palm oil industry, Hamed said once the supply of raw materials reached a critical mass, it would spur investments in downstream activities, like oil and fat industries, soap and food manufacturing.
He said these downstream industries would require highly-trained professionals, like chemical engineers, expert technicians and mangers, and that association members could help to create jobs for these highly-paid staff.

Sarawak produced nearly 2 million tonnes of crude palm oil last year or 11.4% of Malaysia’s total production.