KUALA LUMPUR (May 15): Global pepper demand is projected to continue its upward trajectory in 2024 and 2025, according to Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani.

The minister attributed this growth to the potential applications of pepper in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals and cosmeceuticals, which are driving this positive trend.

“In 2023, the global pepper consumption will amount to around 291,000 tonnes, an increase of 40,000 tonnes compared with the previous year.

“However, Malaysia's pepper exports slightly declined in 2023 to 5,800 tonnes worth RM149 million compared with 6,700 tonnes in the previous year worth RM180 million,” he said during the inaugural Malaysian Pepper Industry National Conference 2024 themed “Strengthening the Growth of the Pepper Industry”.

His speech was read by Deputy Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Chan Foong Hin.

Johari highlighted Malaysia's position as the world's fifth-largest pepper producer, with a production volume of approximately 31,000 tonnes in 2023, trailing behind Vietnam, Brazil, India and Indonesia.

He acknowledged the current challenges facing the local and global pepper industry, particularly the imbalance between supply and demand which is exerting pressure on prices.

Hence, he said the government, via the Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB), is implementing several dynamic and integrated programmes, projects, incentives and assistance involving smallholders and pepper entrepreneurs to ensure the sustainability of the pepper industry and boost the development of upstream and downstream industries.

Under the 12th Malaysia Plan, the government has allocated RM50 million to assist pepper farmers through the New Pepper Planting Scheme and the Mature Pepper Planting Scheme, thereby alleviating financial burdens.

In addition, he said the government has also allocated RM3 million to implement the premium quality pepper projects, while another RM5 million was allocated to increase the involvement of competitive downstream entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, Johari underscored the conference's objective of boosting pepper demand and consumption while strengthening the downstream sector by fostering collaboration among stakeholders, including small and medium enterprises, exporters, importers, hotels and restaurants.

“This conference is proof that the government is committed to growing a competitive local pepper industry, capable of generating immense value to the national economy,” he added.


Sumber : The Edge Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR – A Malaysian minister’s proposal to send orang utans as gifts to countries that buy its palm oil in a bid to show “commitment to biodiversity conservation” has been panned by environmentalists and wildlife groups, who said the government should focus on deforestation.

Instead of shipping the endangered apes to trading partners like India, China and the European Union, the Malaysian government should do more to show its palm oil is produced sustainably, they said.

The “orang utan diplomacy” proposal from Plantation and Commodities Minister Johari Abdul Ghani comes on the heels of a landmark EU regulation requiring companies selling deforestation-linked goods in Europe to prove that these products are not derived from deforested lands or linked to forest degradation.

“In adopting orang utan diplomacy, we aim to demonstrate Malaysia’s unwavering commitment to biodiversity conservation,” he said in a post on his X account last week, likening the strategy to China’s “panda diplomacy” as a form of soft power.

“It would be a... strategy, where we will gift orangutans to trading partners and foster foreign relations, especially with major importing nations like the European Union, India and China,” he said.

Gifting orang utans to countries that buy Malaysia’s palm oil is a terrible idea, said conservationists and wildlife experts, adding that palm-oil cultivation has been one of the biggest factors behind the apes’ dwindling numbers.

“It’s nonsense and the minister knows it,” said Ms Michelle Desilets, executive director of Britain-based Orangutan Land Trust. “West Malaysia has no say over orang utans which live only in Sarawak and Sabah,” in addition to Kalimantan and Sumatra in Indonesia, she said in response to Datuk Seri Johari’s proposal.

The Borneo orang utan and the Sumatra orang utan are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

It is believed that 100 years ago there were probably more than 230,000 orang utans in total, but the Borneo orang utan’s population is thought to be about 104,700, while the Sumatra orang utan is thought to number about 7,500, according to conservation group WWF.

More can be done to ease concerns about the environmental impact of palm-oil production, conservationists said.

While Malaysia has made strides in ensuring its palm oil is sustainably produced, Ms Desilets said the industry is still a significant driver of deforestation.

“Real diplomacy can be shown by ensuring the global buyers that Malaysian palm oil is indeed sustainable and deforestation-free, and also that they are serious about the conservation of orang utans in situ,” she told The Straits Times.

Malaysia is the second-biggest producer of palm oil in the world, after Indonesia. The export of Malaysia’s palm oil and palm-oil based products is projected to be worth about RM110 billion (S$31.5 billion) in 2024, said Bursa Malaysia chairman Wahid Omar at an industry conference in March.

The two South-east Asian countries account for around 85 per cent of the world’s palm oil products, which can be found in everything from pizza and ice cream to lipstick and shampoo.

Global demand for palm oil has been blamed for driving deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia, and harming wildlife habitats there.

Last year, the EU approved an import ban on commodities linked to deforestation, a move that Malaysia has criticised as discriminatory.

Importers will have until the end of 2024 to comply with the new EU ruling, which came into force in June 2023.

Wildlife organisations urged the Malaysian government to consider other ways to show its commitment to biodiversity and protecting the great apes, such as by preserving the forests where they live.

WWF-Malaysia, for one, noted that orang utans are slow breeders and taking female simians out of the country to a strange and unnatural environment may adversely impact the orang utan population.

“The conservation of orang utans is best achieved by ensuring the protection and conservation of their natural habitats, and no further forest conversion into oil palm plantations allowed,” it said in a statement to ST.

Malaysia should improve the connectivity of fragmented orang utan habitats and this can be done by getting oil palm plantations to set aside wildlife corridors that are safe for orang utans, WWF-Malaysia added.

Datuk John Payne, chief executive of the Borneo Rhino Alliance, agreed that the orang utans should remain in their natural habitat, but welcomed new ideas on saving the endangered apes. 

“One possible way to approach orang utan diplomacy that would not raise awkward criticism might be to garner support from the Malaysian palm oil-buying nations to collaborate with the Malaysian oil palm growers in sustaining that wild population in situ, where they are,” Dr Payne said.

There is a well-established wild orang utan population living and reproducing in the mixed oil-palm and forest landscape in eastern Sabah between Sandakan and Lahad Datu, he added.

Datuk Darrel Webber, former CEO of the Malaysia-based Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which was set up to develop and implement global standards for certified sustainable palm oil, said there are ready examples to look to for a softer approach involving orang utans and making the case for sustainable palm oil.

World-class zoos like those in Singapore, London and Auckland run regular campaigns to raise awareness about the orang utans and to highlight the value of choosing products made with sustainable palm oil to help protect the rainforests, thus making a positive impact on the environment, he said.  

“I would humbly suggest that the minister approach these sorts of organisations (zoos), which enjoy a high degree of trust among their countrymen, to help with the diplomatic aims he seeks,” Mr Webber said.

Plantation and Commodities Minister Johari did not respond to ST’s request for comments on the matter.

Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that Datuk John Payne was executive director of the Borneo Orangutan Rescue Alliance. This is incorrect. It should be chief executive officer of the Borneo Rhino Alliance. We are sorry for the error.


Sumber : The Straits Times

SOME 4.94 million ha, or 87.4%, of the palm oil plantations in Malaysia, and 407 of the 446 palm oil mills have been certified under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard as of April this year.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said 151,152 smallholders, covering 542,215 ha (66%), have also obtained certification during the same period.

This represents the collective efforts of the government and industry players over the past decade to enhance the sustainability standards of the industry, according to his speech which was read by his Deputy secretary general (strategic planning and management) Abdul Hadi Omar at the MSPO 10th anniversary celebration and Aidilfitri celebration today.

In addition, the certification has received various recognitions and has signed several memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with stakeholders in key purchasing countries like Japan, China, India, Mongolia and the Philippines.

“A significant MOU was also signed with the Halal Development Centre to promote Malaysian palm oil in the global halal market,” he shared.

Moreover, he said during bilateral discussions with the European Union (EU) on the EU Deforestation-free Regulation and MSPO, positive feedback was received regarding Malaysia’s efforts to reduce deforestation rates.

“The EU has significantly acknowledged Malaysia’s dedication to sustainable commodity production,” he added.

The ministry also announced the rebranding of the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) to MSPO to strengthen the certification scheme’s global standing as a top-quality sustainable palm oil certification scheme.

Johari also unveiled a comprehensive Strategic MSPO Action Plan for 2024 to 2026 to enhance the promotion of the MSPO, focusing on 57 strategic initiatives grouped under three key strategies:

Establishing a solid and reliable certification scheme, enforcing industry compliance while enriching the MSPO certification and broadening the scheme’s recognition and acceptance globally.

“This plan marks a significant step in our commitment to elevating the MSPO to new heights of global excellence and acceptance,” he said.

These efforts are part of ongoing improvements to the MSPO, including traceability, deforestation-free products, legitimate land ownership, and fair labour practices.

The minister repeatedly stressed the need for MSPO to actively engage in local and international forums discussing sustainability or the cooking oil industry and to involve stakeholders in effective engagement sessions.

Lastly, Johari affirmed the importance of placing the MSPO logo on all certified palm oil products to enhance the certification’s reliability and counteract negative perceptions of the industry.

He expressed confidence in Malaysia’s ability to produce high-quality palm oil with premium value while maintaining competitive standards globally.


Sumber : The Malaysian Reserve

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has reaffirmed its commitment toward the production of sustainable palm oil in the state by next year under a framework set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

It said it was on track to implement the Jurisdictional Approach Piloting Framework set by RSPO, currently the most recognised international certification for the production of sustainable palm oil.

Sabah’s efforts since 2015 were recognised at the RSPO’s annual conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The state achieved the first step of the four-step process last year.

This initiative is known as the Jurisdictional Approach to Sustainable Palm Oil (Jaspo).

A workshop was convened earlier this month to discuss the implementation of the second step.

Sabah Natural Resources Office secretary Sernam Singh said the next two years would entail the complete development and adoption of the framework.

“It will require a careful and unique approach to suit necessary solutions for complex issues in the state, ranging from labour issues to protection of high conservation value areas.

“Setting up mechanisms to achieve this will prepare Sabah for full compliance of national and international sustainability standards, including the European Union Deforestation Regulation,” he said

Sabah’s Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Frederick Kugan said a landscape-based sustainability approach for the palm oil industry had been a groundbreaking journey as Sabah had shown its commitment and the ability to adapt to new challenges.

“The knowledge we have gained in the process is invaluable and will benefit not just Sabah’s palm oil industry but also other sectors and regions embarking on similar pursuits,” he added.

Sabah produces 24% of Malaysia’s production of crude palm oil and around 6% of global production.


Sumber : The Star

China has “panda diplomacy,” Australia parades koalas at global summits and now Malaysia plans to join the Asia-Pacific trend for adorable ambassadors – by gifting orangutans to countries that buy its palm oil.

But the idea has come under heavy criticism from conservationists, who note that palm oil has been one of the biggest factors behind the great apes’ dwindling numbers – with one leading conservation professor calling the plan “obscene.”

The world’s most widely consumed vegetable oil, palm oil is used in everything from shampoo and soaps to ice cream. Clearing land for palm oil plantations has been a major driver of deforestation, the greatest threat to the survival of critically endangered orangutans.

Malaysia is the world’s second-biggest exporter of palm oil after Indonesia.

Production is vital to the economy and government officials have gone to great lengths in recent years to defend and rebrand the industry by introducing initiatives to support sustainability – such as improving agricultural practices and issuing government-endorsed green certificates to companies that meet sustainability standards.

At a biodiversity summit outside the capital Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, Malaysia’s minister for plantations and commodities announced plans for “orangutan diplomacy.” Hoping to emulate Chinese panda diplomacy – in which Beijing exerts soft power by loaning its beloved national animal to zoos overseas - the Malaysian government hopes to gift orangutans to some of its biggest trading partners, he said.

Those partners “are increasingly concerned over the impact of agricultural commodities on the climate,” said minister Johari Abdul Ghani. “It is a diplomatic strategy where it would be advantageous to trading partners and foreign relations, especially in major importing countries like the EU, India and China.”

Ghani did not provide further details such as a timeline or how the animals would be acquired – but welcomed palm oil giants to “collaborate” with local environmental groups in caring for the endangered giant apes.

“This will be a manifestation of how Malaysia conserves wildlife species and maintains the sustainability of our forests, especially in the palm oil plantation industry,” he said.

The announcement drew swift backlash from conservationists and environmental groups.

“It is obscene, repugnant and extraordinarily hypocritical to destroy rainforests where orangutans live, take them away and give them as gifts to curry favor with other nations,” Stuart Pimm, chair of conservation ecology at Duke University, told CNN. “It totally goes against how we should be protecting them and our planet.”

Pimm also noted that cuddly-animal charm offensives were normally followed by wider long-term conservation efforts.

“There is a huge difference between what Malaysia is proposing and what China has done for giant pandas,” he said. “China has state-of-the-art facilities for pandas and more importantly, has established protected areas that safeguard wild panda populations. What Malaysia’s government is proposing is hardly anything comparable.”

CNN has reached out to Ghani, and Malaysia’s Ministry of Plantation and Commodities, for further comment about the proposed orangutan program and how it plans to ensure that it will support conservation and sustainability.

‘A significant driver of deforestation’

Environmental and conservation groups also strongly opposed the idea, calling on Malaysian officials to instead work on reversing deforestation rates, which they largely blame on palm oil.

Between 2001 and 2019, the country lost more than 8 million hectares (19 million acres) of tree cover, according to a 2022 report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an area nearly as large as South Carolina.

“Malaysia’s land surface area was once almost covered with forest,” the WWF said in its forestry report, which cited enduring threats such as palm oil cultivation and unsustainable logging.

According to a 2023 report by climate watchdog Rimba Watch, 2.3 million hectares of forests in Malaysia are at threat of deforestation. “Deforestation for palm oil in Malaysia has generally been on a downward trend but still represents a significant driver of deforestation,” Adam Farhan, the group’s director, told CNN. “We believe there is an urgent need to bring deforestation rates in Malaysia to zero rather than co-opt an endangered species as a commodity for diplomacy,” he added.

Heng Kiah Chun, a regional campaign strategist for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said orangutan diplomacy “would not solve Malaysia’s deforestation crisis.” “If the Malaysian government is truly committed to biodiversity conservation, it should implement policies against deforestation instead,” Heng told CNN.

Conservation ‘crucial’

Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling animals, known to spend most of their lives swinging through canopies of tropical rainforests.

Researchers have noted their incredible intelligence and ability to demonstrate skills such as instinctively treating wounds with medicinal herbs or using tree branches, sticks and stones as tools to break open hard objects like nuts.

The gentle apes, once found in greater numbers across Southeast Asia, have experienced sharp population declines, according to a WWF Malaysia report – particularly on Borneo, the large island shared between Malaysia, Indonesia and the tiny sultanate of Brunei.

“In 1973, Borneo was home to an estimated 288,500 orangutans. By 2012, their numbers had dropped by almost two-thirds, to 104,700 and the decline has continued,” the WWF report said.

There are still believed to be around 100,000 orangutans left on Borneo, and 14,000 on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, it added. “Orangutans are critically endangered,” WWF Malaysia told CNN in a statement. “Therefore it is crucial that all remaining orangutan habitats are conserved.”

A commitment to improving forest management and the sustainable production of palm oil would be “the best way to showcase Malaysia’s commitment to biodiversity conservation,” WWF Malaysia said.

“Orangutan conservation is best achieved by ensuring the protection and conservation of their natural habitats – and that no further forest conversion into palm oil plantations is allowed.”


Sumber : Cable Network News