Free Malaysia Today (28/01/2019) - PUTRAJAYA: Putrajaya is looking for new markets for the country’s palm oil industry in a bid to ward off negative perceptions after the decision by several European countries to ban palm oil as a biofuel.
Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said Malaysia’s first move was to chair the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries this year.
“It is a platform for us to counter any discriminatory action towards the golden crop,” she said during a press conference held at her ministry office here.
Malaysia, Indonesia and Columbia are members of the council, and Putrajaya has welcomed more countries to fight the challenges and discrimination currently faced by the trade.
Malaysian Palm Oil Council CEO Kalpana Sundaram said they were also meeting African countries, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and countries from the Middle East.
“They have been receptive and are looking forward to something affordable for their consumption,” he told FMT.
Kok meanwhile added that Putrajaya’s relationship with China would further boost sales.
“At the moment, the sale of palm oil to China is still business-to-business. Our closer relationship will help,” she said.
Kok acknowledged that China was buying more palm oil from Indonesia at a cheaper rate.
“(But) we have good agricultural practices and we care for the environment,” she said, adding that this was one way to boost sales.
She said the ministry, with the help of other Cabinet members, is also pushing to change the perception among Malaysians who think that palm oil is inferior.
During the press conference, she showed a one-minute video which will be released during the Chinese New Year period.
It shows Kok, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah visiting a palm oil plantation, and focuses on the fortunes the oil palm industry could bring in the coming year.
The livelihoods of some 650,000 smallholders could be at stake due to the anti-palm oil lobby in several countries.
Earlier this month, Kok announced a year-long “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign in response to anti-palm oil movements overseas.
The campaign aimed to instil national pride and a greater appreciation for Malaysian palm oil, focusing on socio-economic importance, health, nutrition, and food and non-food applications.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to officiate the campaign in the first quarter of 2019.
On Jan 17, a video clip featuring Mahathir was released in support of the campaign.
In the three-minute video, the prime minister challenged the idea that palm oil consumption is detrimental to consumers, claiming that the stigma surrounding palm oil is mere fear-mongering by other competing edible oil producers.
Read more at https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/01/28/putrajaya-seeks-new-market-to-boost-palm-oil-sales/