KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is expected to post record high palm oil exports this year, possibly touching RM85 billion, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said. “I think RM85 billion is a reasonable target considering palm oil prices are likely to go on trading at strong levels."
The palm oil industry charted strong growth last year, posting an expansion of RM20 billion to RM80 billion from 2010’s RM60 billion.
“In view of the high prices, we must continue to increase planters’ productivity and competitiveness. So far, the replanting of unproductive trees with high yielding hybrids among independent smallholders has achieved around 80 per cent of our initial target,” Dompok said.
Another way to help independent smallholders improve their productivity is the setting up of cooperatives which will facilitate more efficient resource-sharing. So far, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has helped these smallholders establish 11 cooperatives.
Dompok said MPOB had also stationed enforcement officers at 186 underperforming mills. This is to ensure only ripe fruit bunches from planters are accepted, thereby raising the national oil extraction rate.
The minister was speaking to reporters after delivering his keynote address at the “Palm Oil Economic Review and Outlook Seminar 2012” here yesterday.
Later at the seminar, MPOB director-general Datuk Dr Choo Yuen May concurred with Dompok and said palm oil prices is likely to remain firm this year as Brent crude oil prices advance on rising geo-political tension in the Middle East.
Uncertain weather conditions is also likely to boost soyabean oil prices. Palm and soyaoil prices tend to move in lockstep because they are perfect substitutes of each other in cooking oil, bakery fats and biodiesel.
On the homefront, the government had introduced the B5 biodiesel blend at petrol stations in Putrajaya, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. The B5 blend is basically 95 per cent regular petroleum-based diesel and five per cent palm biodiesel. Choo said continued increment in palm biodiesel usage will buoy palm oil prices.
MPOB also estimated that this year’s palm oil output could rise by another two per cent to 19.33 million tonnes as more trees mature and bear more fruit bunches, particularly in Sarawak.