KUCHING, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- Palm oil is Sarawak's number one agriculturalcommodity export earner, the State Legislative Assembly was told Tuesday.
State Land Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Masing said last yearit accounted for 3.9 percent of the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP)as compared to 3.3 percent in 2002.
In 1996, export earnings from palm oil and its products stood at RM333.64million and by 2003, it increased to RM1.29 billion.
"This is an increase of four folds over a period of eight years," he saidin his winding up speech.
He said that the state government supported all serious investors, bothfrom within and outside Sarawak.
As at end of June this year, he said that 486,913 ha of land had beenplanted with oil palm, which was an increase of 12,709 ha or 2.7 percentcompared to 474,204 ha last year.
He projected this to reach 500,000 ha by the end of this year.
There are 26 palm oil mills in operation throughout the state with totalapproved capacity of 5.08 million tonnes per annum, Dr Masing said.
"The oil extraction rate (OER) achieved by these mills in 2003 was 21.28percent which is a drop of 0.29 percent compared to the 21.57 percentachieved in the previous year," he said.
However, he said that more than 80 percent of these mills achieved OER ofabove 20 percent as against the national average OER of 19.75 percent in2003.