Malaysia Committed To Tackle Climate Change And Rules-Based Trade; Zuraida

In 2021, the total trade of goods and services for both Malaysia and the UK accounted for £5.2 billion whereas Malaysia’s export of agricultural commodities (Palm Oil, Rubber, Timber, Cocoa and Pepper) contributed to 14% of the total trade, valued at £734 million. This agriculture trade export has shown an increase of 17% compared to 2020, which is £628 million. 

As the UK has shown interest in ensuring that agricultural commodities entering the UK are sustainably sourced, Malaysia has been working closely with the UK to ensure that the voice of producing countries like Malaysia are heard and any new laws to be enacted that may affect the trade exchanges are in line with the spirit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) as a whole – economically, socially and environmentally, said Datuk Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, in her keynote address in London recently.

“In relation to that, we are committed to strengthening our cooperation through the Forest, Agriculture and Commodities Trade  Dialogue (FACT Dialogue) where we were tasked as the co-facilitators for the  Smallholder Support Working Group.”

Malaysia’s Sustainability Efforts in Commodities 

Sustainability has always been associated with deforestation. However, it is crucial to note that sustainability is more than just forests. The United Nations’  definition of sustainability is clear: social and economic sustainability is on an equal plane with environmental. So, the Malaysian Government is also focused on supporting small farmers and their economic communities. Among the initiatives includes developing infrastructure, granting financial assistance where needed, and protecting the ability of small farmers to earn a living. 

Another important measure taken by the Malaysian Government through the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) is the introduction of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification (MSPO) in 2015, which was made mandatory starting from January 2020. The MSPO Certification  Scheme ensures that Malaysian palm oil is sustainably produced and safe for consumption. It also seeks to reduce the industry’s social and environmental impacts and help independent smallholders certify their palm oil for the export market. In addition, the certification ensures the country’s palm oil industry complies with international sustainability requirements encompassing the whole supply chain, from growers and millers to traders and retailers. 

MPIC through the National Agri-commodity’s Strategic Plan is also committed to ensure that other commodities will have their own certification systems in the future.

Circular Economy

Production of palm oil results in multiple types of secondary products (solid and liquid) in high volumes, such as Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME), Empty Fruit  Bunch (EFB), decanter cake and palm pressed fibres. These biomass products can be further utilised directly to produce new value-added products or as alternative energy sources to fuel the production facility. 

The incorporation of this model will not only address the environmental aspect plaguing the palm oil industry but also the economic concern of the supplies of primary raw materials. MPIC is also planning to expend the circular economy technology to other Agri-commodities such as rubber, pepper, and Kenaf to ensure a more effective and sustainable waste management. As the industry embarks on reusing its waste, the reliance on primary sources will diminish. This contributes to reducing deforestation and lowering our carbon footprint. Introducing new usages of secondary products will also bring about new economic opportunities. Furthermore, it could significantly disrupt the current energy industry by increasing the accessibility to biomass as an energy alternative, in tandem with the world’s commitment to decarbonising its economy by reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. 

Malaysia – UK Partnership Opportunities 

“Malaysia realises that we have to work with many stakeholders and potential tech players to harness the latest technology to further explore the full potential of Agri-commodities production.  There is a need for better facilities, more advanced technologies, and substantial investments into the industry to ensure a competitive edge against traditional practices.”

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