CPO price trending up

KUALA LUMPUR: CRUDE palm oil (CPO) price is expected to strengthen to RM2,600 per tonne in the next three months, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

CPO price stood at an average RM2,555 per tonne in the first 17 days of the month. 

Muhyiddin said there has been an increase in CPO price from RM2,221 in January to RM2,328 last month.

"CPO price is on a rising trend, and we hope it will continue to next year," he said at a press conference after launching the Malaysian Palm Oil Board's International Palm Oil Congress 2013 (PIPOC) yesterday.

In his keynote address, Muhyiddin urged industry players to generate growth in downstream activities, particularly in the food and health products as well as commercialisation of second-generation biofuels.

He said the government has undertaken efforts to ensure that CPO remains available to domestic industries to develop downstream activities and create value-added palm products.

"However, the expansion of our downstream activities has not occurred at a level envisaged by the government. 

"I am hopeful that industries present here today will consider reinvesting in downstream activities that value-add our palm oil sector."

Malaysia and Indonesia are currently at the forefront of global palm oil production and exports. Last year, Malaysia's export of palm oil amounted to RM73.3 billion.

Despite being a key contributor to the country's economy, the palm oil industry continues to be hurled with criticisms from various parties abroad.

Muhyiddin said last year, for example, some French members of parliament proposed a Bill to increase the tax on palm oil from 100 (RM430) to 300 per tonne.

However, due to the farsightedness of the French government, the unsubstantiated proposal was rejected, he said.

He hopes that the ongoing free trade talks between Malaysia and the European Union will result in a more equitab;e solution.

"I am hopeful that government officials from both sides will work towards a trade-friendly solution to address the negative perceptions surrounding palm oil, on matters related to sustainability as well as nutritional claims," he said.

The three-day PIPOC attracted 2,000 participants from 45 countries. It also features a trade exhibition with more than 270 booths displaying current technologies, state-of-the-art equipment and products related to the oil and fats industry.

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Africa is growth catalyst for oil palms

KUALA LUMPUR: Oil palm planting can play a vital role in West Africa's future as it has in Southeast Asia's economic rise, Malaysian Palm Oil Council chief executive officer Tan Sri Yusof Basiron said.

"The African continent is expected to more than double its population by 2030 ... if the world is going to address the growing issue of food security, a strategic move would be to plant more efficient oil crops like oil palm," he told an international audience of some 1,000 at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board's International Palm Oil Congress (PIPOC) 2013 here yesterday.

Yusof said United Nations' Food & Agriculture Organisation had, time and again, issued reports that nearly a quarter of the world's population live on less than US$2.00 a day and that one in eight people, particularly those living in developing nations, go to bed hungry.

Palm oil is the powerhouse in the oils and fats market and is a suitable crop for farmers in tropical developing countries. The oil palm is native to the continent and thrives in West Africa's moist climate. It is a high-calorie, nutritious product that will be a key component of any anti-hunger effort.

The yield from oil palms is seven times higher than rapeseeds a hectare and 10 times that of soyabeans.

Currently, oil palms are cultivated in Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, Central and West Africa and Latin America, all of which are developing countries in the humid tropics. The trees are planted by some 10 million farmers across the equatorial belt. 

At the same time, it feeds billions of people in China, India and other developing nations.

Yusof also highlighted some of the benefits of agriculture-led development that can accrue to smallholders in West Africa. He said Malaysia set the global standard in this area when it implemented its innovative Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) programme to ensure that smallholders share equitably in the rising prosperity that comes with plantation agriculture.

This path-breaking Malaysian programme has inspired Liberia's Outgrowers Scheme undertaken by Sime Darby Bhd, an effort to support Liberia's small farmers.

"Palm oil is a major revenue earner for Malaysia. It can provide sustainable and green opportunities for other developing countries," Yusof said.

He went on to highlight that the insight, technology and hard-won business savviness of Malaysian palm oil investors will help kick-start West Africa's nascent palm oil industry.

"Palm oil production respects and adopts the three principles of sustainability - people, planet and profits. Investment in oil palm cultivation must continue because palm oil addresses food security and the need for trans fat free food items at affordable pricing," he said.