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OFI Asia 2014: New body to regulate Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil Standard

A new Malaysian palm oil certification council should be in operation by the first quarter of next year to supervise the recently launched Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard, Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, said at the official launch of the OFIC 2014 Congress and OFI Asia 2014 exhibition on 6 November.

The standard was agreed in September 2013 and will be applicable to independent smallholders, plantations, organised smallholders and palm oil mills.

It includes seven principles covering management commitment and responsibility; transparency, compliance to legal requirements; best practices; and development of new planting, with a certification process to ensure compliance.

"The inclusion of smallholders in the MSPO standard is especially significant because smallholders comprise up to 40% of the total area planted to oil palm in Malaysia," the minister said in a statement.
A pilot audit of MSPO certification was carried out at various oil palm operations beginning in April this year and, as at October, three mills, three plantations and two smallholders had successfully complied with MSPO requirements.

"The challenge now is to work towards widespread national implementation and international recognition and acceptance of this set of auditable standards."
At a press conference that day, the minister said the government had implemented a B7 biodiesel mandate in Malaysia and was looking at a B10 mandate, potentially by the middle of next year.
He also touched on the subject of the shortage of labour to harvest fresh fruit bunches from oil palms, saying that labour was an issue which affected all industries in Malaysia.

Embas said the Malaysian Palm Oil Board had launched a competition to find a solution to mechanise harvesting, with a one million Ringgit prize for the winner, to be announced around the end of November.

The congress had earlier heard that some 80% of workers at oil palm plantations are foreigners, the majority of which are from Indonesia.