TAWAU, January, 22nd – 23rd - Institute of Plantation Studies (IKP), Permodalan Nasional Berhad Research Institute Berhad (PNBRI), and WorldWide Fund For Nature (WWF-Malaysia) held a focus group discussion (FGD) together with smallholders of oil palm growers in Tawau dan Lahad Datu districts for PALMA Project Study -Sustainability Opportunities for the Plantation Industry in Malaysia. This discussion session was held at two locations namely Hotel LA, Tawau and Hotel De Leon, Lahad Datu. The event was attended by two representatives of PNBRI, six representatives of WWF-Malaysia, and 10 representatives of oil palm smallholders around Tawau and Lahad Datu. This discussion aimed to discuss the issues and challenges faced by the smallholders, especially in Sabah, while working on their respective plantations.
According to WWF-Malaysia representative, Mr. Norbert John, WWF-Malaysia has established the Sustainable Palm Oil Team (SPOT) which is responsible for providing technical assistance and as an intermediary between the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), the industry and the smallholders to meet the Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification criteria. This RSPO certification provides numerous benefits to smallholders, especially in increasing farmer’s income through a guaranteed premium price for oil palm fruit, management monitoring to increase the production of fresh fruit bunches, and other incentives to ensure that national palm oil products are sustainable and accepted in the global market. The initiative implemented by WWF-Malaysia is also a commitment towards a positive image of the Malaysian oil palm industry by maintaining sustainable agricultural practices with less impact on the environment and local communities.
Among the issues and challenges faced by smallholders is the increase in the cost of farm management, which involves an increase in the price of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, labor costs, and relatively expensive planting materials. According to the farmer's representative, Mr. Hamka Kasma, the price of fertilizers and pesticides has tripled while the sale price of oil palm fruit in the market is not stable which affects the monthly income of the smallholders. The study of this PALMA Project led by the Director of IKP, Prof. Dr. Shaufique Fahmi Ahmad Sidique is now being conducted throughout Malaysia. The result of this focus group discussion (FGD) program is expected to provide input to the ministry level regarding smallholder issues as well as suggestions for sustainability and increasing oil palm productivity.
Date of Input: 31/01/2024 | Updated: 31/01/2024 | ainzubaidah
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