It’s no secret that palm oil, often termed “the golden crop”, is one of the primary contributors to economic development in Malaysia. The Malaysian palm oil industry is backed by more than 90 years of responsible plantation practices on legally approved agricultural land in accordance with legislations in the country. The Malaysian palm oil industry is one of the most highly regulated agricultural sectors in the world. Malaysia is proving that it is possible to responsibly produce sustainable palm oil.
Since planting first began, the benefits of oil plant cultivation* have been felt in many ways:
- Poverty eradication: The Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) was established to generate greater opportunities to group landless farmers, and provide land for rubber and oil palm cultivation. Its success in raising rural income in Malaysia has made FELDA a World Bank case study for possible duplication in other countries.
- Environment and biodiversity: The Malaysian palm oil industry adopts Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) to ensure that its activities are carried out sustainably and play a responsible role in reducing the environmental footprint. The establishment of the Malaysia Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF) reinforces the industry’s commitment to conservation efforts on biodiversity and wildlife.
- Economy: Palm oil is a major contributor to Malaysia’s economy and has become a vital source of expert earnings for the country. In 2013, around $20 billion worth of palm oil and palm products were exported worldwide.
- Employment: The Malaysian palm oil industry employs about 570,000 people directly, providing the means for this segment of the population to improve their standards of living through higher gross national income and access to better education.
*The productive lifespan of the oil palm typically ranges between 25-30 years, making it more environmentally efficient compared to annual oilseed crops. This also ensures a consistent supply of oils and fats, including sustainable palm oil, to address global food demands.