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News Admin
 
Date
 28/07/2006
News Provider
 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
News Source
 The Star
Headline
 Vital to purge oil palm disease

I REFER to the report “Alert out for oil palm blight” (The Star, July 22).

27/7/06 (The Star)  - I agree with Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui that there is currently no effective measure to eliminate the cancer-like oil palm disease known as Ganoderma Basal Stem Rot (BSR), which is causing serious losses to the oil palm industry. But I do not agree with the minister that BSR is only prevalent in smallholdings. 

As a small-scale oil palm grower, I had the opportunity to learn more about common oil palm diseases. As BSR usually affects mature palms, the young palms in my plantation are currently free from the disease. 

But I took the initiative to learn more about it and visited a couple of big oil palm estates. 

From my visits and discussions with the estate managers, I am convinced that the BSR disease is prevalent in big oil palm estates, too.

I also learnt that the estates I visited adopted only soil mounding in blocks with high incidence of BSR. This technique involves building soil mounds around the base of palms. They did not fell their afflicted palms at will. 

As mainly palms of over 10 years old would be afflicted with BSR, big plantations would only adopt measures to prevent the spread of the disease and to prolong the economic life of the palms. 

They would start replanting only if the oil palm bunch yield in an affected block fell below target. 

The chemical injection mentioned by the minister and developed by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has not been proven to be cost-effective.

Lately, I learnt that a local research establishment has developed a biological control method to counter BSR. 

But without access to any published materials I have no clue how cost-effective it is, or how it works.

BSR is fast becoming a major threat to the oil palm industry in Malaysia. Any information concerning BSR, its effective control and elimination methods should be well publicised and disseminated.

My discussions with a MPOB scientist on this subject, though informative, have not been very encouraging. As at the end of last year, MPOB’s Plant Pathology Division had only two scientists working on oil palm diseases.

Though I possess all their research papers, mostly presented at international conferences, I doubt I am able to deal with this disease if the palms in my plantation are afflicted. 

Do you think small-holders in rural areas would know how to deal with this disease? 

 

A.S. TOH,

Petaling Jaya.

ECONOMICS & INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DIVISION
Malaysian Palm Oil Board ( MPOB ) Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA.
Tel : 603 - 7802 2800 || Fax : 603 - 7803 3533