The government will continue to place emphasis on sustainable development perspective of the palm oil industry in the country, especially those on peatland.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said this was to ensure such development did not lead to environmental and ecosystem degradation.
Speaking at the 15th International Peatland Congress held here today, he said the country had a total peat area of 2.43 million hectares, of which 27.5 per cent had been developed for oil palm planting.
“The growing of oil palm in peatland is subjected to much scrutiny from environmental organisations, as well as ethical consumer advocacy groups for various reasons.
“These include allegations of oil palm development contributing towards degradation of peat lands, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions and global warming,” he added.
Mah stressed the need to ensure the industry complied to the existing rules and regulations, including good agriculture practises and adopting sustainable approach in its development.
He said the government had established the Tropical Peat Research Laboratory in Sarawak in 2008 to collaborate with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) in developing best practises in the use of peatland for oil palm planting.
“For the period 2008 to 2015, a total of RM39.1 million was allocated to it to undertake research activities towards developing the best practises and other measures to ensure sustainability of oil palm development on peatland.”
Mah said the government would continue to encourage the industry to adhere to and adopt sustainable practises in oil palm development.
This included, among others, the industry-led initiative for certified sustainable palm oil under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
“Malaysia, too, has implemented its own certification scheme such as the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil which is based on our current laws and regulations,” said the minister.