Kok: Unfair to blame oil palm industry for haze

Kok: Unfair to blame oil palm industry for haze

PUTRAJAYA: It is unfair to blame the oil palm industry whenever the haze occurs, especially at the large plantations, said Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok.

Speaking to reporters after opening the 39th Palm Oil Familiarisation Programme (POFP) hosted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) today, Kok said the forest fires that caused the current haze in the country was because of the El Nino season.

Kok said she believed that the big plantation companies would not practise open burning as they had adopted good agricultural practices either through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme.

In many parts of Indonesia and Borneo including Malaysia, there were many crops or trees planted on peat soil which could catch fire easily, she said.

“Sometimes some smallholders could have done it (open burning) and not necessarily the big oil palm companies and maybe other villagers are involved too,” she said.

Kok said she would be heading to Indonesia next month to meet Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution to discuss various issues related to the oil palm industry, including haze.

“We hope plantation company owners including from Malaysia will come together and discuss these issues,” she added.

On another note, Kok said Malaysia was able to export palm oil to more countries and register double-digit growth this year, but the revenue dropped due to low palm oil prices.

“The quantity has increased but the value has not. In fact, we managed to export more palm oil to more countries and also the stock level has reduced. But because of the low palm oil prices, the revenue has dropped,” she said.

Last year, palm oil and palm-based products contributed RM67.5 billion to Malaysia’s export earnings and provided employment to over three million people along its supply chain, including more than half million smallholders.