KUALA LUMPUR (March 5): The Ministry of Primary Industries will be presenting a paper to the Cabinet later this month, which will seek to implement a cap on the expansion of oil palm plantations in the country at a ceiling of 6.5 million hectares (ha) by 2023, in a move to dispel the oil's reputation as a cause of deforestation.
As at 2018, total planted area in Malaysia stood at 5.8 million ha, producing more than 19.5 million tonnes of crude palm oil, according to its minister Teresa Kok.
"Oil palm plantations have been accused [of] causing deforestation. That is why my ministry has come up with the position to cap the expansion of our oil palm plantations, but (focus on) improve seedlings and yields in our planting areas.
"There are some planting in areas that are not captured by Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) or the state government. We will need to give some room for [manoeuvring] within these few years but we want to cap it, and we have to work with state governments to do that," Kok said at the 2019 Palm & Lauric Oils Price Outlook Conference and Exhibition here today.
She added that this was in addition to another paper to be presented to the Cabinet, which proposes the opening up of oil palm plantation maps in Malaysia to enhance transparency of planted areas.
"We need to be transparent… We hope the Cabinet will approve this so that we can make our oil palm plantations map available to public, non-governmental organisations, or whoever interested, to know the areas of oil palm plantation in Malaysia," she added.
Kok said the ministry has also written letters to the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, requesting land for the replanting of forestry trees in support of forest restoration.