KUALA LUMPUR: All parties need to play a role in ensuring that Malaysia’s palm oil industry, which is the source of income for over a million people in this country, continues to be accepted by the market, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (pix) said.

He, who is also the Minister of Plantation and Commodities, said those involved in the palm oil industry needed to deepen and implement the principles set out in the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme as an effort to ensure palm oil and commodity-based products continued to be accepted by the market.

The deputy prime minister said MSPO is comprised of three main principles -- the balance between human needs, environmental sustainability and profit generation.

“When the industry has 100 per cent studied and practised the principles set in the MSPO, we can deal with all the restrictions and negative campaigns of several irresponsible quarters with certain interests.

“Efforts to fend off the claims of irresponsible quarters need to be proven and I believe one of the ways is through certification,” he said in a Facebook post.

He said the rapid development of the country’s palm oil industry was not achieved easily but instead, had to deal with various challenges and obstacles in ensuring that palm oil was accepted around the world, including negative campaigns by certain quarters who said palm oil was bad for health.

Fadillah said although the negative campaign and accusations were answered through clear scientific studies that palm oil, with its high nutritional value, is suitable for use in various cuisines and products, the industry continued to face current challenges such as the European Union’s (EU) actions to introduce new regulations on deforestation-free products on the import of selected commodities, including palm oil.

Therefore, he said Malaysia made early preparations to ensure that palm oil production is based on principles set through the MSPO, which is mandatory for all industry players from 2020.

Since MSPO introduction in 2013, he said a total of 661,844.12 hectares of oil palm plantations or 81.10 per cent of the private smallholder category have been certified with MSPO certification nationwide as of May 31.

He said under the organised smallholder category under the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), Felcra Bhd, Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda), Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) and the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB), a total of 665,535.51 hectares or 99.65 per cent of the palm oil planted area was certified with the MSPO.

“Besides making the MSPO certification a success, the government will also remain committed to ensure that palm products can be marketed to all corners of the world through negotiations and engagement to correct the negative perception of palm oil,” he said. - Bernama