2017 PALM OIL INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP AWARD DINNER
Assalamualaikum WBT, Salam Sejahtera and Salam Negaraku Malaysia.
Terlebih dahulu saya ingin merakamkan penghargaan dan terima kasih kepada YB Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong atas jemputan ke majlis ini. Saya dimaklumkan Palm Oil Industry Leadership Award atau PILA, merupakan acara tahunan yang penting dalam kalendar para pemain industri sawit Malaysia Ia membawa erti yang besar kerana majlis PILA ini adalah untuk memberi pengiktirafan kepada para pemimpin dan individu yang telah memberi sumbangan yang signifikan untuk pembangunan industri sawit
Tahun ini majlis PILA lebih bermakna kerana kita meraikan sambutan 100 tahun industri sawit Malaysia Sehubungan itu pada kesempatan ini saya mengucapkan tahniah kepada wakil-wakil industri serta semua pemegang taruh yang hadir malam ini Sesungguhnya sumbangan Tuan-tuan telah memperkasakan industri minyak sawit Malaysia selama ini dan saya ikhlas berharap Tuan-tuan akan terus bersama Kerajaan membawa industri ini ke tahap yang lebih tinggi lagi
Ladies and gentlemen
Oil palm is not native to Malaysia It was introduced as an orna-mental plant way back in the 1870s and remained so until 1917 when the first commercial planting started transforming itself into a new commodity crop and laying the foundation for the creation of the Malaysian palm oil industry. Since that historic moment the industry has over the years grown and evolved and along the way minting Malaysia's international presence as the world's leading producer and exporter of palm oil. The industry played an instrumental and important role in poverty alle-viation in the country In the words of Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak palm oil planting provided land for the landless and jobs for the jobless
Today this industry sustains some 650,000 smallholders and if we take the entire breath of the palm oil supply chain into account two million Malaysians rely on the industry for their live-lihood. These numbers tell a story a story of how palm oil is inter-twained with Malaysia and a bond that can never be broken. Records have shown that when we gained Independence 60 years ago half of the population were grappling with poverty with a majority of them were living in rural areas and infrastructure was wanting. There was a big gap in the living conditions of urban and rural populations simply because of the imbalance economic opportunities
The Government realised that it had to urgently address this imbalance. Driven by the conviction to ensure the Malaysian sun shines on every Malaysian policies were formulated to ensure a balanced economic growth and reduce income gap between the rural and urban Malaysians. This innovative approach started with the setting up of FELDA in 1956 and of course oil palm was the chosen cash crop FELDA’s success led to the setting up of other land development agencies such as FELCRA SALCRA and KESEDAR all aimed at generating more employment opportunities
The success of FELDA is the envy of the world because in just one generation we not only reduced poverty but created a middle class that did not exist before In this regard the United Nations and other international agencies have acknowledged that Malaysia has one of the best poverty reduction and economic restructuring programmes in the world. Today Malaysia is a vibrant player in the global palm oil industry producing close to 20 million tonnes of palm oil with a total export value of 67 billion Ringgit last year
Ladies and gentlemen
Our palm oil industry is however facing unprecedented challenges and continues to face anti-palm oil campaigns with consumers’ countries especially in the European Union such as palm oil free labelling to systematically sideline the palm oil industry. We cannot stay silent any longer We must respond to all the negative campaigns on palm oil We must respond rationally with facts and figures on the issues of de-forestation and destruction of wildlife. The Government will not tolerate the negative campaigns and we will ensure on behalf of all of you here and especially the 650,000 smallholders that Malaysia gives a fitting response to those who harm the palm oil industry
We must also forge ahead with sustainable certification and adopt best agricultural practices We must brand palm oil well because it is a versatile and nutritious oil. In this regard I welcome the decision that the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil or MSPO certification will be made mandatory by 2019 I strongly believe that this is the best move Malaysia set the agenda on certification and not an external body that may not have the best interests of the industry at heart
As the Member of Parliament for Bagan Datuk I am well aware of these challenges as palm oil is an integral part of the local economy but let me rei-terate that the benefits of MSPO certification to both the smallholders and estate owners outweigh the costs of it. The Government has allocated 130 million Ringgit as an incentive for smallholders to help them obtain the MSPO certification for free. It is encouraging that so far 19 sustainable palm oil clusters involving 1,040 individual smallholders and 4,127 hectare land have obtained the certification.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Government remains committed to ensure the wellbeing of smallholders Smallholders feature prominently in Malaysia’s palm oil success story This is because this golden crop has lifted millions out of poverty and provided much needed upward social mobility for rural Malaysians. In view of this the Government has allocated 1.04 billion Ringgit for smallholders under the 10th Malaysia Plan and a further 540 million Ringgit under the 11th Malaysia Plan to undertake replanting and new planting. That is not all In addition 48 million Ringgit has been allocated to facilitate the participation of smallholders in the livestock integration scheme that will generate extra income for them
Ladies and gentlemen
As the next wave of technological disruption takes place in the form of Industry 4.0 we must be at the forefront of embracing new technologies to add value to the palm oil industry. For example there is an urgent need to embrace mecha-nai-zation precision agriculture and automation in the upstream sector to reduce the dependency on labour. Increased productivity will also bring increased returns and the Government has provided funds and incentives to encourage mecha-nai-zation and automation.
Palm oil industry must also seriously consider adopting and using information technology not only to ensure food chain security and tracing of the supply chain but also to ensure palm oil is sustainably produced and is seen to be produced sustainably. This will also silence the critics of palm oil Besides that we must harness new technologies and leverage on the experiences of the last 100 years to ensure we remain on top of the game in ensuring national and global food security. Towards this end I would like to see MPOB intensify its research efforts and focus on commercially-driven research so we can monetise our efforts and bring more value to the palm oil industry
As the world population grows rapidly there is room a natural growth of the palm oil industry Therefore we must work hard by opening up new export markets and strengthening our position in the current markets where we have a good foothold. It is in the best interests of all of us to ensure Malaysia remains a key player in R and D and innovation and remains committed towards sustainably produced palm oil
Ladies and gentlemen
As we reflect on the success and the strides of the last hundred years indeed we have done well However as we are living in the future the challenges we will face are not fully known. The next 100 years may not be as kind as the last hundred years Even though palm oil remains the world’s most widely consumed vegetable oil with the ons-slaught of the anti-palm oil lobby and the advancement of the other vegetable oils we must ensure that we go our best to remain in pole position. The Government will continue to set clear and right policies with precise goals and the industry must meet us regularly and provide the fullest cooperation to ensure this industry prosper. We have a plan for the industry and the country and we will make it work together for we owe it to Malaysia and Malaysians a continued prosperity and stability.
Ladies and gentlemen
Before I return to my seat I would like to congratulate the recipients of the Palm Oil Industry Leadership Award 2017, and the Palm Oil Lifetime Achievement Award this year. I hope the outstanding contributions and achievements of these individuals will encourage many more to follow in their footsteps for the benefits of our palm oil industry. With the industry players’ un-wavering support towards the Government I am confident that our palm industry will continue to strengthen and flourish for the next 100 years and beyond Thank you and please enjoy the rest of the evening