JASIN, June 1 (Bernama) — The Primary Industries Ministry and Malaysian Palm Oil Board will continue to raise awareness amongst oil palm smallholders to comply with standards under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification programme.

Deputy Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin said the certification was crucial in ensuring increased productivity and quality of palm oil products through good farming practices, while generating higher income.

“The palm oil industry is facing a number of issues including sustainability and environment-related ones such as deforestation and being a threat to wildlife habitats, all of which have brought a negative impact to the industry.

“Hence, to counter the campaign to mar the image of the palm oil industry, the government has implemented various initiatives to strengthen palm oil production in an effort to further enhance the competitiveness of the country’s palm oil industry with 17 other vegetable oils in the world market,” he told Bernama here today.

As of April 30, 119 of 162 Sustainable Palm Oil Clusters nationwide have been MSPO-certified, involving 9,171 private smallholders across 35,207 hectares of plantations.

Shamsul Iskandar, who is also Hang Tuah Jaya MP, said the government was aware of the high cost of obtaining MSPO certification which would be made mandatory by the end of the year, and had thus allocated RM30 million to help smallholders cover the cost of fees, training, provision of chemical storage shelves and personal protective equipment.