15/02/05 Klang - GOLDEN Hope Plantations Bhd will focus on Indonesia,particularly Kalimantan Barat, in expanding its oil palm acreage thisyear.
"We believe that having a critical mass of about 50,000ha in one area willhelp us achieve economies of scale," group chief executive Datuk SabriAhmad told reporters after briefing the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil(RSPO) Criteria Working Group on Golden Hope’s Carey Island development inKlang yesterday.
The group currently has 20,000ha of oil palm plantations and about 20 palmoil mills in Kalimantan Barat. Sabri sees Golden Hope increasing its oilpalm plantations by an additional 30,000ha in Indonesia.
Golden Hope was open to such opportunities as acquisitions and strategicalliances in Indonesia, he said, and added: "We will look at both theupstream and downstream activities, with the possibility of setting upmore palm oil mills and refineries in Indonesia.
Datuk Sabri Ahmad
"If an opportunity is genuine, feasible and synergistic with the group, wewill study and explore it thoroughly so that shareholder value can befurther enhanced."
The group is gearing up to be an integrated plantation player with strongpresence in both upstream and downstream activities.
Golden Hope emerged as Malaysia’s second largest plantation owner with190,000ha following its acquisition of Austral Enterprises Bhd’splantation estates from Island & Peninsular Bhd.
Earlier, Sabri, who is also the chairman of Malaysian Palm Oil Association(MPOA), told visiting members of the RSPO Criteria Working Group that themajority of Malaysian plantation companies practised sustainable palm oilproduction and management.
"To ensure sustainability, the Malaysian palm oil industry is tightlyregulated by the authorities, including the need for an environmentalimpact assessment (EIA) study for any new plantations over 500ha, as wellas strict emission levels in palm oil mills effluent and black smoke," hesaid.
MPOA is one of the founding members of the RSPO, which is represented byproducers, palm oil supply chain processors, consumer goods manufacturers,and retailers of palm oil and its derivatives.
The RSPO was established in April last year in association with the WorldWide Fund for Nature to address issues concerning sustainable palm oilproduction and implementation of better management practices, and topromote sustainable production and use of palm oil.
RSPO Board president Jan Kees Vis said: "Although palm oil is entirelygenetically modified-free and has the highest yield per hectare to anyother oil or oilseed crop, there are environmental pressures on itsexpansion to eco-sensitive areas, particularly in Asia, Africa and SouthAmerica."