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Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani




Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani





Oil palm growers urged to lower production costs
18/6/2002 (The Star) - MALAYSIA’S position as the world’s largest palm oilproducer is under threat and might not last for very long if planters donot lower production cost and increase yields, a national seminar inKuching was told yesterday.“Our production cost is too high and yet our production per hectare islow.“Although researchers and smallholders have consistently proved that onehectare can produce up to 40 tonnes of fresh fruit bunches (FFB), thenational average is still below 20 tonnes,” according to the IncorporatedSociety of Planters (ISP) chairman Emerson Liau.He said the industry’s survival was at stake as Malaysia’s competitors hadvast tracts of good land, cheap labour and low production cost.“When the crude palm oil (CPO) price fell below RM700 per tonne last year,alarm bells were ringing everywhere,” he added at the opening of ISP’snational seminar.More than 500 participants from Malaysia and Indonesia are attending thetwo-day event themed Plantation management – back to basics.Liau attributed the country’s low yields to poorer soil, poor plantingmaterials and poor management.He said good management required more than just technical expertise andexperience; it needed close supervision of managers on the ground.“Managers need to walk the fields to see for themselves the realsituation.“Basic estate practices, like proper fertilising, regular harvesting,loose fruit collection, maintaining good field conditions, and repairingbroken bridges and bad roads, require the managers’ personal attention onthe ground.“Vehicle maintenance and repairs is another costly item that needs to beaddressed and cannot be done by remote control,” said Liau.Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said in his openingspeech that the dismal national average yield of 19 tonnes of FFB and 3.5tonnes of oil per hectare had remained stagnant for the past 20 yearsalthough many private firms had achieved more than 23 tonnes per hectare.He said the government’s target was to increase the national average oilyield to 4 tonnes per hectare by next year, and 5.5 tonnes by 2010.

(The informations and opinions expressed in this article represent theviews of the author only. They should not be seen as necessarilyreflecting the views of Palm News)