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News 26731 to News 26740 of about 27535 news within page 2674
26731. 23/07/2002
   
07/16/2002 (The Jakarta Post) - Palm oil producers called on thegovernment to remove the export duty on crude palm oil (CPO) in a bid tohelp boost the competitiveness of the commodity on the internationalmarket.The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers' Association (Gapki) said that theassociation had sent a letter to the Ministry of Trade and Industry urgingit to remove the prevailing three percent export duty on CPO.Gapki chairman Derom Bangoen said on Monday that the export duty wasintroduced last year by the government to discourage CPO producers fromexporting their products at a time when the price of cooking oil was at arecord high.CPO is the raw material used in the production of cooking oil, which isconsidered a strategic commodity in this country, where the people arepartial to fried food."The price of cooking oil is relatively stable now, but the government isstill maintaining the export duty on CPO,"Derom told reporters on thesidelines of Gapki's annual meeting.Many local exporters, said Derom, had complained that the export duty hadaffected the competitiveness of local CPO products on overseas markets."They (the exporters) can't lower the price of their CPO while competitorsfrom Malaysia are offering lower prices. This has created difficulties forlocal exporters,"he said.He said the association would also make a formal request to the financeministry to drop the export duty.The government imposed the export duty on CPO amid fears that rising CPOprices on the international market could prompt local producers to exporttheir palm oil.If this happened, it could have led to a shortage at home and furtherpushed up the price of cooking oil.Derom said that removing the export duty would also help increase theprice of palm fresh fruit bunches, which in turn would encourage farmersand plantation firms to boost production."So far, the low price for fresh fruit bunches has discouraged growers andplantation firms from expanding their plantations,"he said."How can we meet the government's export target of 10 million tons overthe next five years if there's no expansion in the plantation area,"headded.Indonesia, the world's second largest palm oil producer after Malaysia,aims to export some 5.5 million tons this year, up from 4.9 million in2001.
26732. 23/07/2002
   
07/14/2002 (Asia Intelligence Wire) - HERE'S a terribly sexy idea:supposing we could grow plastic, like we grow rice or rambutans? We'dnever have to worry about running out of petroleum. It would be cheap but,more importantly, biodegradable.A consortium of Malaysian scientists, working with the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology, is designing a way to harvest plastic from thefronds of oil palm trees.Why the fronds? Because getting it in the oil would confuse, not tomention scare, entire populations of consumers. And fronds have so farbeen a low-value part of the tree."In theory, all it needs are rain and sunshine,"says Ruslan Abdullah,associate professor of plant genetics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia'sSchool of BioSciences and Biotechnology.In reality, it's more workable than earlier attempts at getting bacteriato produce biodegradable plastic although it borrows genes from the samesource."Plants don't readily produce plastic but some bacteria do," says Ruslan."We've implanted those bacterial genes into oil palm. The plants are aboutsix months old. In about a year, we should see this plastic."Ruslan and his team of researchers implanted the two plastic-making genesfrom the bacteria Ralstonia eutropha. That's genetic engineering.But to get bioplastic, it's metabolic engineering at work: active aminoacids from one of those genes piggyback on a series of biochemicalreactions that normally take place within the tree, and trick the frond'scells into storing the bioplastic.Ruslan's assignment - part of the five-year multi-agency Malaysia-MITBiotechnology Partnership Programme - is to park those genes in the rightplace."We want plastic in the leaves," says Ruslan, "we don't want it in the oilor anywhere else. There are good reasons for that."Palm oil is good as it is. To install plastic into it - even if it'sedible like those funny sweet wrappers - would stir up a stingingpsychological hornet's nest that may shatter palm oil's well-entrenchedposition in the food market.Oil palm fronds, on the other hand, are low-value and traditionally gointo compost, animal feed and to a smaller degree, biomass fuel.Still, the most powerful driver in this is the prospect that the worldwill runout of petroleum - the traditional source of plastic - in lessthan 50 years. For over a decade now, scientists have been desperatelyhunting for alternatives because no matter what social engineers havetried, people won't give up their plastic."Petroleum-sourced plastic is made of non-degradable polyethylene," saysRuslan. "That's always been a problem. Bioplastic is made of carbon,oxygen and hydrogen, the stuff the earth is made of. And if it grows ontrees, then it would be renewable."Bioplastic's best-known building blocks are polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) andpolyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), both entirely biodegradable. In nature, severalkinds of bacteria produce these substances. Typically, they convertcarbohydrates into a polymer and store it in their cell walls.Evolution theorists think polymer-filled cell walls might be a reservoirof food when it's scarce, like human bodies store fat, or possibly, afortress impenetrable to viruses and other invaders.That's what prompted the first attempts at making bioplastic. But infactories, getting bacteria to do it is expensive because the microbesneeded a rich diet of sugars, starches and fats, pampering in the rightenvironment plus a process to crack those cell walls to extrudebioplastic.The most famous of these is the proprietary Biopol, developed by ICI inBritain, acquired by Zeneca by way of merger, then sold to Monsanto, whichhas since put it up for sale. Biopol, although it degrades efficiently inlandfills, does not have many customers at RM28 per kilogramme. Syntheticplastic costs about RM2 per kg.Already, British and US scientists have turned to getting plants likecanola and rapeseed to produce bioplastic, also by implanting a gene froma plastic-making bacterium. But some plants have forseeable problems:after harvesting the useful part (oilseed or whatever), you need to chopthe plant down to process for bioplastic. Then you plant again. Would thatbe expensive?With oil palm, the tree stays, usually for more than two decades. Thefruit is taken for the oil people. The fronds, which fall off and getcleared every day in any case, present little change to existingplantation practice.No matter how exciting all this sounds, the bridge between bioplastic inoil palm fronds and actual usefulness has not been built yet. Will it beeasy to process? Will it be a good quality plastic? Would it be strongenough for a plastic bag or for the dashboard of a car? Will it beeconomical?At the Malaysian Palm Oil Board - co-ordinator of the Malaysia-MITcollaboration - researchers are investigating these issues."It's exciting but still very early days," says Ruslan. "We're likely tosee the real picture in about 5 years. The combined body of research willshow us what really works."
26733. 23/07/2002
   
07/14/2002 (Asia Intelligence Wire) - SIX years ago, Ruslan Abdullah setout to genetically engineer oil palm trees to make them resistant to anasty pest called the bagworm. He's bagged the worm.In the isolated nethouse near his lab at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia'sSchool of BioSciences and Biotechnology, Ruslan's bagworm- resistant treeshave become a hell for this pest.He has released huge numbers of the bagworm on those oil palms. Oh, thebagworms munch the palms all right. But over 35 days, they eat, dehydrate,shrivel up and die by slow starvation because they can no longer digestthe fronds, their favourite food.The fronds, and the rest of the tree, contain a protease inhibitor.Protease, produced by the bagworm's digestive system, breaks down proteinsit consumes into amino acids, the building blocks of life. The bagwormneeds this enzyme for digestion but the inhibitor, now built into thetree, disables protease and makes digestion impossible.In Ruslan's set of controls - ordinary oil palm trees - the bagworms aretruly happy."The implanted gene is stable in the plant,"says Ruslan."It's showing upin every part of the tree. I take this as a good sign, a signal that wecan move on to the next phase."The next step would be tests for other kinds of insects, includingassorted caterpillars and the rhinocerous beetle, which likes to eat themeristem of young palms and kills them. Later, he will need to devise asystem to introduce the same gene into planting material.Ruslan's first batch of bagworm resistant trees is five years old.They've grown so tall they will soon burst through the roof of the securenethouse."I'll have to renovate, extend the height,"says Ruslan. Frondsfrom those 24 trees are about six metres tall. Their trunk diameter isabout 30 centimetres.He has since created four more generations to ensure that the geneticengineering part can be repeated systematically. There are now about 100trees in the nethouse, and in his lab, another 100 very young trees stillin test tubes. The trees represent the three oil palm varieties here - thedura, pisifera and the hybrid, tenera.The resistance to bagworm in those trees comes from the protease inhibitorgene found in the cowpea plant. The cowpea is resistant to worms.Researchers at Cornell University isolated the gene several years ago, andtested it by implanting it into tobacco and beans, making them resistantto worms too.When Ruslan started work on this project using this same gene, it was withsome trepidation."There's a big difference between an oil palm tree and acowpea plant, or beanstalks,"says Ruslan."Scientists used to think the oilpalm couldn't be genetically engineered to give it desirable qualities.But given oil palm's problems associated with pests, it would have beenunfair not to try."Pests are a serious matter in oil palm plantations. The bagworm, aplanter's nightmare, slashes productivity by as much as 43 per cent.Bagworms eat the leaves until the fronds look like skeletons. Some leaftissue is used to make the bag. When the foliage drops off the tree, nophotosynthesis takes place. In the end, no fruits are produced.Unlike other pests, spraying insecticide is difficult because the worm issafe in the protective bag it builds around itself. Catching it in itshatch cycle is tricky. The only thing that works is picking them off byhand, which besides being extremely labour-intensive, is practical onlywith short trees. Two cycles of bagworm is considered infestation.For a truly bagworm-free future, the oil palm tree will need to pass onthe gene to its young. Already, Ruslan has found the gene in its pollenand the mesocarp of the fruit."My next investigation is to see if the geneis present in the female reproductive parts of the flower."For this - to examine whether or not the gene moves from generation togeneration - Ruslan and his team have received a 2002 IRPA grant forRM390,000. Next in Ruslan's agenda is to study gene targeting, a sciencethat overcomes non-specific insertion of genes engineered into plants.But what about toxicity, particularly to ruminants that graze inplantations and eat fallen fronds?"Mammals don't react to proteaseinhibitors at all,"says Ruslan."Still, I'd like to test this in a range ofanimals that may hang around an oil palm plantation."In nature, oil palm does not cross with other plants easily, not even withcoconut, although that was the source of the bagworm in the first place.And since all its wild relatives live in Africa, it's not likely thatbagworm resistance in oil palm will pass on to other crops or plantspecies.
26734. 23/07/2002
   
07/16/2002 (Asia Intelligence Wire) - Three private and state agencies arepreparing to work with a Swedish chemical producer to develop a newbio-ethanol fuel called e-diesel for diesel vehicles.Representatives of the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre, PTTPlc, the Pollution Control Department and Akzo Nobel Surface Chemistrysigned a memorandum on research and development of the alternative fuel.The project would study a way to produce e-diesel, a mixture of diesel oiland 10% crop-based ethanol, its properties and commercial viability, saidPuritad Bhandhubanyong, the director of MTEC.He said MTEC would set aside 10 million baht to support the one-year pilotproject while other agencies would provide equipment and raw materials.The fuel will include an additive called Beraid ED-10 produced andsupplied by Akzo Nobel. The additive has properties to balance diesel oiland ethanol. It is the first time the company has worked to develope-diesel outside of Europe.Trials will involve three types of fuel mixtures: 1%, 1.5% and 2% BeraidED-10 with 89%, 88.5% and 88% diesel oil. The portion of ethanol would beconstant at 10%."Each group will be tested with diesel engines to compare efficiency ofvehicle performance, combustion, exhaust fume, acceleration rate,durability and corrosion of engines and parts," said Mr Puritad.Sawang Boonyasawat, executive vice-president of the PTT Research andTechnology Institute, said the project, if successful, would help savemillions of baht in annual import costs for diesel oil.E-diesel would be commercially viable, he said, if ethanol was priced atno more than 12 baht a litre and diesel oil at a maximum of US$25 abarrel.Previously, PTT and the National Electronics and Computer TechnologyCentre had collaborated with Ford Motor Co of the United States toresearch and develop so-called diesohol, a mixture of diesel oil and 10%ethanol, using Ford Ranger one-ton pickup trucks.Gasohol, a mixture of gasoline and 10% ethanol, is available at a few PTTservice stations. Still, sales are only 1,000 to 2,000 litres a daybecause the supply of ethanol remains small. The daily supply from theRoyal Chitrlada Project is 400 to 500 litres. Gasohol is 50-70 satang alitre cheaper than premium gasoline.Should the e-diesel project succeed, Mr Sawang said he would seekgovernment support to use the fuel as in Brazil, where the governmentencouraged the use of diesohol to reduce ash deposits.Urban Lofvenberg, global account manager of fuel additives for Akzo Nobel,said the company opted to support the project because the use of ethanolin Asia remained rare. Thailand was making the most progress in thedevelopment of the additive.
26735. 22/07/2002
   
Jul 18, 2002 (OIL WORLD FLASH) - Due to the unusually low growth of exportsupplies we forecast world imports of palm oil to rise only 0.32 Mn T or1.8% to 18.30 Mn T in Oct/Sept 2002/03. This compares with an increase byan estimated 0.61 Mn T this season and an average 1.36 Mn T annuallyduring the five seasons ended 2000/01. The increase next season will beonly moderately larger than the growth of 0.2 Mn T registered in the tightseason 97/98 when the price of crude palm oil cif Rotterdam averaged $640. The market’s rationing job in 2002/03 will not be easy either. Alsoin 1997/98 some countries increased their imports more sharply, viz. Indiaby 290 Thd T, Malaysia by 215 Thd T, Pakistan by 190 Thd T and the EU by105 Thd T. As the combined total of these countries alone far exceeded theincrease in world imports, other countries had to reduce imports more orless sharply. The bulk of the reduction occurred in developing countriesand the largest decline was registered in Chinese imports, viz. by 361 ThdT. Next season we expect the strongest import demand to again come fromIndia where the poor monsoon will affect domestic production while carryinstocks of oils next Oct 1 are estimated to be down 0.28 Mn T on the year.We therefore expect Indian palm oil imports to reach 3.8 Mn T next season,only second to the record level of 3.85 Mn T in 2000/01 and up 0.53 Mn Tfrom this season. Furthermore we expect the imports of China to increaseby 160 Thd T and those of the EU by 50 Thd T. This means that the importsof the rest of the world will have to be reduced by 420 Thd T next season.This will probably not be possible without prices for crude palm oil cifRotterdam rising above $ 500 and establishing at least a small premiumabove Dutch crude soybean oil fob exmill. Thd T in April/June, with thebulk of it shipped in June. This compares to only 44 Thd T in April/June2001. A further pick-up in exports is reportedly occurring this month.Argentina is seen exporting at least 100 Thd T of soybean oil to China inJuly and some smaller quantities are being shipped from Brazil.
26736. 19/07/2002
   
19 July 2002 (Business Times) - A GROUP of Malaysian investors have teamedup with the Filipinos to set up a RM28 million palm oil mill in thecentral Philippine province of Bohol.
26737. 17/07/2002
   
KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 (Bernama) -- Primary Industries Minister Datuk SeriDr Lim Keng Yaik said there is a great possibility of good investmentopportunities with several large companies in China in the oleochemicalindustry and the development of brand products in soap, detergents,toiletries and cosmetic.He said that during his mission to China recently, the Malaysiandelegation met and discuss possible joint ventures with Chinese companiesin the field of these palm oil downstream products.
26738. 17/07/2002
   
Online investment advisor Surf88.com writes on prospects in the palm oilindustry.NOT AS BAD. Overall, the June palm oil statistics turned out better thanexpected. While crude palm oil (CPO) production increased 2% as expectedfrom May, exports did not decline as much as feared, falling 7.2% versusexpectations for a 9% drop.Palm oil stocks continued to fall for the fourth consecutive month, downby another 2% to just above 910,000 tonnes.For the first half of 2002, CPO production fell 6% from the same periodlast year while exports were about 5% lower. Palm oil stocks at end-Junewere 25% below end-2001 levels, and the lowest in four years.Reasons to be still positive. The recent weakness in CPO prices was indeedtemporary, and prices have since climbed back to around RM1,380 per tonne.We believe there is room for further upside even though the crop isentering its peak production season.Meteorologists now believe that the chance of El Nino happening at the endof this year is as high as 90%. If so, this will affect palm oilproduction next year, after an estimated 10% decline in 2002.Latest estimates for major global edible oils already point to anotheryear of tight supply, reducing stocks to its lowest levels in four years.We are hence still positive on plantation stocks and would retain ouroverweight call. Our top picks are KLK (RM6.50), PPB Oil (RM3.12), IOICorp (RM6.30) and IOI Corp-WA (RM2.77).l For more reports, click on www.surf88.com
26739. 17/07/2002
   
Tuesday, July 16, 2002 (The Star) - MALAYSIA will soon become a majorproducer of high quality paper made from worthless empty palm oil fruitbranches, thanks to Chinese technology.Primary Industry Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said a Malaysiancompany has come up with the technology to turn the empty fruit branchesinto high quality fibres that were suitable to produce various types oftimber and paper products.“In this trip to China, we found several Chinese machinery companiescapable of turning these fibres into high quality paper.“In fact, we will be starting a test programme with this Chinese companyvery soon to produce brown wrapping paper using 100% palm biomass fibres,”he said in an interview here yesterday.His ministry would be sending 30 tonnes of the raw material to the Chinesecompany in Shanghai, which has claimed that it could make 30 tonnes ofpaper out of the material.The Chinese are known for producing high quality but low-priced machinery.“Our experts will witness the process to ensure that only palm biomassfibres are used. I am very impressed with what the Chinese have shown meand am very excited about the future of the palm oil industry,” he added.Lim said the empty fruit branches were worthless and the 360 palm oilmills in the country gather 30 million of the biomass a year. Some of thebranches are turned into low-grade fertiliser and carted back to theestates but most are discarded.“In most cases the mills have to beg or even pay others to cart away theempty fruit branches but with this new technology the biomass will becomevery valuable.”Lim said the Chinese already had the machinery to make such paper usingdiscarded padi stalks, adding that making paper from empty palm fruitbranches in Malaysia was a cheaper option than using discarded padi stalkor even timber.“All the empty branches are centred at the mills thus paper manufacturersneed not gather the raw materials from all over the place like they do fordiscarded padi stalk.“It is cheaper than using timber or wood chips as there is no need to chopdown trees, pay for logging royalties, loggers and forest rehabilitation,”said Lim, adding that producing paper from palm biomass was 30% cheaper.He said palm biomass fibres could be used to make all sort of papersincluding newsprint, which cost the country about RM2bil a year to import.A factory fitted with Chinese machinery is estimated to cost aboutRM500mil compared with RM6.8bil for the normal paper mill producing500,000 tonnes of paper.He said the biomass fibre could also be used to make multi densityfibreboard and particle board.There was also technology available to turn the trunk of the palm treeinto high quality timber, he added.
26740. 17/07/2002
   
7 July 2002 (Business Times) - MALAYSIA’S plantation sector is expected tocontinue the strong performance it recorded in the first six months ofthis year, based on shrinking supply and growing demand.
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ECONOMICS & INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DIVISION
Malaysian Palm Oil Board ( MPOB ) Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA.
Tel : 603 - 7803 5544 || Fax : 603 - 7803 3533