15/05/208 (Bernama), Kuala Lumpur - The Ministry of Plantation Industry and Commodities has set up a group fertilizer scheme opened to oil palm smallholders to ease their burden following the increase in the price of fertilizers.
Its minister, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui, said under the scheme, smallholders will be able to buy fertilizers on a credit basis and the payments can be made through deductions from the sales of the oil palm fresh fruit branches from their farm. Chin said his ministry was also looking at expanding the scope of assistance offered under its scheme for the cultivation of quality oil palm seedlings to include help for fertilizers.
At the moment, the scheme offers help only in the area of seedlings to qualified smallholders, he said in winding up the debate for the ministry on the motion of thanks for the royal address at the Dewan Rakyat here today.
He said the ministry was also looking at the suitability of using organic fertilizers from the waste products of oil palm plantations.
He said the fertilizers from the waste products were cheaper than the chemical based fertilizers.
On the problem of getting quality seedlings in Lawas, Sarawak, Chin said there was only one company dealing with seed cultivation in the area but the company was not certified with the Oil Palm Nursery Competency Certificate (OPNCC) which is aimed at ensuring the quality of oil palm seeds.
He said the ministry through the Malaysia Palm Oil Board was looking into helping the company to improve its farming practices so that it would be able to get the OPNCC certification while helping to reduce the problem of shortage of quality oil palm seedlings.
As for the long term plan, he said the ministry was looking into the suitability of setting up oil palm seedlings cultivation centres certified by OPNCC throughout Sabah and Sarawak to address the problem.
On the welfare of oil palm plantation workers, Chin said the ministry has also taken several measures to encourage the plantation companies to carry out their corporate social responsibilities starting with their own workers.
He said several large companies had given their commitment to implement programmes that will raise the welfare of their workers, as well as facilities and infrastructures in their estates for a five-year period starting this year to 2012 which will involve RM1 billion in cost.
On the Cooking Oil Price Stabilisation Scheme (COSS), Chin said cess payment was collected from plantations of more than 40.46 hectares.
Since the launch of the scheme in June last year to April this year, the cess collected amounts to RM1.37 billion.
From this, the subsidy paid from June 2007 to April 2008 was RM970.4 million, bringing the remainder to RM397.40 million, he said.
Chin said the ministry was also looking at decreasing the burden of cess and ensuring that the consumers especially from the lower income group are not burdened with a high cost for cooking oil.
On the call for the cess collected to be returned as tax rebate, he said it will also be considered for a reveiew.