Sustainable Palm Oil Production To Save The Environment

new_110515_mpob_01By Asmahanim Amir
Pix Izwan Azman

BANGI, 8 May 2015 – World palm oil production must be made more sustainable to ensure environmental protection is not jeopardised.

Chairholder of the MPOB-UKM Endowed Chair, Prof Dr Ir Arthur P.J. Mol said demand for sustainable food is rising and government should think about a mechanism or new system to ensure food is produced from sustainable materials.

“When demand of products increase, production also rises. But does the production uses sustainable methods which do not pollute the environment?

“So, we are studying the new system which is more sustainable and can be used by the government in the food chain. For example, if the food marketed is derived from palm oil, it must be proven that the palm oil trees are cultivated in a sustainable manner,” he said while delivering his lecture Certification of Markets, Markets of Certification: Tracing Sustainability in Global Agro-Food Value Chains, here on 21st April.

UKM and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)  set up the Chair funded by MPOB to undertake research to make the palm oil industry in the country not only more profitable but environmental friendly as well.

Prof Mol said, the new system will not threaten the environment and will not hinder the daily activities of the communities around oil palm plantations.

The system is good because it will produce quality palm oil without environmental pollution.

The research is not only on sustainable use of oil palm plantations, but also covers the use of certificates and labels on food products.

He said, lately there were abuses in the production of food in order to obtain the relevant certificates and labels for the products.

“They did not use the right way to get the certificate. This is fraud and the flaws may damage the product’s reputation,” he explained.

Prof Mol said probably the guilty parties used improper methods in order to save production costs, but they should remember that they face higher risks because of global warming.

If the planned new system is applied in the future, the output of palm oil products will be more sustainable and does not pollute the environment.

Meanwhile, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Prof Dato’ Dr Mazlin Mokhtar said the system being studied by researchers of developed countries cannot be ignored by industries, especially in Asean countries, including Malaysia.

“In the context of Malaysia, we are moving to become a high-income developed nation. So, to be a developed nation means level of knowledge should also be high and demands and expectations also will be higher,” said Prof Mazlin.

He said, people are now quite demanding and are very particular about the source of products they purchase.

“So, this is being discussed by Professors from developing countries where they have gone to a higher standard that we only now also aspire to“, he said.

He added, regarding certification, it’s not coming from just from one discipline, but also involves various aspects. This is where the government, the private sector and the farmers need to work together to ensure that the system used achieves sustainability.

Not all systems used are the best, but we have to try to see how far the new method really works, he added.

Prof Mol is an internationally renowned scholar in environment sciences. He is currently the Chair and Professor of Environmental Policy for Wageningen University, Netherlands. He is also the Professor of Environmental Policy for Tsinghua University, China.

Prof Mol’s appointment as the Chair was a strategic move to provide impetus, especially in the international arena, for research on palm oil related matters.