Adhere to good labour practices, palm oil industry told

Adhere to good labour practices, palm oil industry told

BANGI: Palm oil stakeholders need to adhere to good labour practices, uphold labour standards and ensure no forced and child labour practices in the industry, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali.

He said his ministry and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), which last year organised a series of roadshows to disseminate good labour practices among estates, would intensify roadshows covering Sabah and Sarawak this year to reach out to more participants from both regions.

Mohd Khairuddin said the ministry believed allegations of forced and child labour by the United States against Malaysian palm oil industry were in reference to insignificant and isolated cases.

“Despite that, we will strive to improve this negative perception of the industry,” he said in his speech at the Palm Oil Economic Review and Outlook Virtual Conference (R&O) 2021 organised by MPOB today.

Mohd Khairuddin said these allegations must be taken seriously as they would impact the industry.

“We are truly disappointed and saddened by the withhold release order imposed by the US Customs and Border Protection on Malaysian companies,” he said.

He noted that the ministry and MPOB had organised several awareness programmes focusing on the importance of good labour practices, and these include engagements with the plantation companies to emphasise compliance to existing laws and regulations.

On ensuring sustainable production of palm oil, Mohd Khairuddin said the ministry and agencies were aggressively promoting the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, especially among smallholders.

“The government hopes that sustainable certification will elevate the industry to a global standard and widen market access in light of changing consumer priorities,” he said.

As of Dec 31, 2020, a total of 5.20 million hectares or 88.25 per cent of the 5.9 million hectares of oil palm areas in Malaysia had been MSPO-certified, he disclosed.

 Also, a total of 427 palm oil mills or 94.47 per cent of the 452 mills in the country have been awarded MSPO certification.

“Sustainable production across the board will make it easier to trade Malaysian palm oil in the international market and raise its competitiveness in the long run,” he added.