|Written by Arimi Sidek|
Sabah became the country's main palm oil producer on 1.24 million hectares of the total 4.3 million hectares, Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Anifah Aman said Saturday (DE 17.02.08). It is more actually, to the excitement and joy of palm oil industry. At present, it contributes about 16pc to the State’s GDP. It also provides employment to about 60,000 people, representing about 5.4pc of the state’s total workforce. Oil palm is currently Sabah’s main agriculture crop.
Note: This a reproduction of my article that was published in Daily Express newspaper, aims to cater wider and more serious audience on the matter.
There is something else about the news that interests me. The statement somewhat lures us to think that palm oil industry in the State focuses on 14,346 smallholders, which I suspect is not. If we divide 1,240,000 hectares by 14, 346 the average will be 86.43 hectares - about 213.58 acres. There is no way plantation of this size fit into small holders category.
The real industry players not even mentioned. So let get, it straight. Palm oil industry in the state actually focuses on big plantation companies, not smallholders. Peninsular-based companies are among the key players. Hence, the smallholders figure is simply cosmetic more or less, to my thinking.
The locus of palm oil industry is big plantations – more than 80pc are located in Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu. POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, a state-run company, managed clusters of designated areas in Lahad Datu, Sandakan and Kimanis, known as Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC). Read full story from the source