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Difficulties in approaching independent smallholders and land title issues are the two biggest challenges faced by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), as one of the regulatory bodies to get the remaining oil palm plantations certified under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO).
MPOB director-general Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir said there are 259,000 smallholders in the local sector, and out of this number, around 40 percent of their estates have been certified while the remaining 60 percent are not.
“We need to especially approach the smallholders because they are small and scattered, independent and not directly link to us. So, it’s our responsibility to make sure we find all of them.
“We are doing a lot of promotion, trying to get hold of them, meet, register and eventually have them in our sustainable palm oil cluster, then later get them to be certified,” he said during a panel discussion at the MSPO-IPOS (Indian Palm Oil Sustainability Framework) Sustainable Palm Oil in India webinar today.
He said the issue with smallholders is that they are difficult to reach as they are scattered over the country, may not handle or manage their plantation themselves and might reside in different places.
“Other than that, some of the smallholders are of an average age of around 59-60 years old. This is quite elderly for them to be complying with the MSPO,” he added.
On the land title, he said under the MSPO certification, the land must be utilised for oil palm and it becomes an issue when the smallholders switch from one crop to another.
“Nevertheless, I think for us this (MSPO certification) is very important, so we will do our best to make sure everybody will come on board and have all the smallholders certified.”
Meanwhile, Ahmad Parveez said overall, about 87.17 percent of Malaysian oil palm planted areas are certified.
The MSPO certification became mandatory starting Jan 1, 2020, in line with the government's announcement on Feb 24, 2017, aiming to enhance the image of the country's palm oil in terms of sustainability, while fulfilling the demand for certified palm oil in global markets.