KULIM (Malaysia) Bhd is set to expand the operations of its plantations inMalaysia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Indonesia to meet an expectedincrease in global demand for palm oil.
Its chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim said other than planning to pushthe productivity rate of its local plantations and mills to the maximum,Kulim, through subsidiaries in PNG and Indonesia, is also embarking onwidening the scope of its overseas operations, especially in those twocountries.
He said the company is particularly optimistic about its operations in PNGwhich will receive a boost when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr MahathirMohamad visits the country on October 23.
We are now the leading plantation company in PNG as well as the largestsingle employer of the private sector of the country.
As it isWe are now looking for new opportunities, taking into account thechanges brought about by the potentially tougher competition arising fromglobalisation.
Muhammad Ali was speaking to reporters after opening the company’sthree-day inaugural conference in Johor Baru yesterday, which was attendedby 130 top executives of its subsidiaries, including 17 from PNG and 12from Indonesia.
Kulim subsidiaries in Indonesia are PT Trimitra Sumberperkasa and PTMultrada Multi Maju, while its subsidiary in PNG is New Britain Palm OilLtd (NBPOL).
Kulim currently has about 140,000ha of plantation holdings collectively inMalaysia, PNG and Indonesia.
Its plantation operations in Malaysia enjoyed improved performance in thefirst half of this year with a cumulative second quarter production at273,167 tonnes, a 15.59 per cent jump from the same period last year.
Cumulative yield per ha improved to 11.27 tonnes compared to 9.75 tonnesachieved for the same period last year while the cumulative oil extractionrate for the two quarters was at 18.73 per cent compared to 19.04 per centbefore.
NBPOL managing director Nick Thompson said the company currently has30,000ha of matured oil palm plantations in PNG, which is double what itwas when operations started 10 years ago.
It is currently employing 6,000 people in its plantations throughout PNG.
The opportunity to expand our operation in PNG is simply enormous due tothe availability of land in that country. Our plantation operation iscurrently located in three of the country’s 17 regions and this we plan toexpand to another four,” he said.
At the same time, PNG’s currency, the Kina, has strengthened by 4.08 percent during the quarter to RM1.08 compared to RM1.03 per Kina as at theend of March 2002.
In Indonesia, its subsidiaries’ plantations in Kalimantan and SouthSumatera total 23,000ha planted with another 58,000ha to be fullyexploited for a future expansion programme.
However, production in the quarter was at 19,282 tonnes which is slightlylower than the 20,538 tonnes recorded in the corresponding quarter lastyear.
For the first two quarters of this year, Kulim’s total revenue rose toRM466.55 million as compared with RM419.11 million in the first half oflast year, while profit before tax swelled to RM112.45 million fromRM56.48 million previously.