23.03.2020 (The Borneo Post) - MIRI: Oil palm smallholders travelling to their estates should produce their Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB) license as supporting documents if stopped for checks at MCO road blocks.
Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail made this call in response to worried smallholders staying in town areas and feared being stopped from reaching their destinations.
Some were confused by public instructions by the authorities at road blocks asserting a 10–km radius travelling cap under MCO or risked being turned back or penalised for non-essential travel.
“For oil palm fruits, it is suffice to produce MPOB licence,” he said respond to the uncertainty of those who mobilized from town away from their smallholdings to harvest and sell their Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) to mills or collection centres.
Unless decided otherwise, agriculture sector is one of the essential services that exempted in the MCO, so transportation of agriculture produce or product including crops, fishery and livestock are allowed to pass through the roadblock by police or army personnel.
The assistant minister however urged those in the agriculture sector to be responsible and support the government’s efforts to push back the spread of Covid-19 with CMO.
“Those given this leeway are advised not to abuse them,” he said..
The oil palm sector is considered a critical industry by the National Security Council and is allowed to operate within the disease control guidelines such as social distancing entails travel restrictions.
According to Malaysia Palm Oil Council (MPOC), there are over 28,000 native families in Sarawak who are smallholders, using four wheel drive vehicles as their main means of transportation of FFB and farm inputs.