Ambassador of Malaysiato Sri Lanka, Tan Yang Thai, recently met with a delegation from the Palm Oil Industry Association Sri Lanka (POAISL), to discuss the benefits of a collaborative approach towards uplifting Sri Lanka’s rural communities.
He shared experiences of Malaysia’s successful palm oil industry and discussed how their practices can also benefit Sri Lanka’s economy and the quality of life of the rural community. Palm oil cultivation in Malaysia has played a role in strengthening the country’s economy. Healso emphasised the role that Sri Lanka’s palm oil imports played in strengthening the Malaysian economy. He also stated that Malaysia is willing to extend their corporation to review the current landscape of palm oil in Sri Lanka.
Malaysia is the second leading producer of palm oil worldwide and are willing to pass down their expertise on sustainable palm oil cultivation to Sri Lanka. A national scheme, the Malaysian Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme was introduced in 2013, for oil palm management and supply chain and certifies grower and mills through national standards and encourages the growth of the sustainable sector. Through this meeting with POIASL, the Malaysian Ambassador hopes to aid the country’s economy in a wholesome manner.
A wet, tropical climate with an annual temperature range of between 24C to 32C is ideal for oil palm cultivation, making the low country wet zone a prime location. This has increased employment for rural workers and addressed the youth unemployment issue, to which the Ambassador said that they are willing to provide tactical support. There is also more willingness amongst the youth population to engagein oil palm cultivation.
He also mentioned that there were projects in the pipeline with the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), an intergovernmental organisation of which Malaysia is one of the founding fathers, alongside Indonesia. Recognising a contribution of the palm oil sector in generating export revenue and uplifting the quality of life of rural workers, the council aims to unite the world’s palm oil producers. Some of the major palm oil producers are also working towards sustainable agronomic practices by creating awareness amongst the stakeholders.
A spokesperson of the delegation stated that the Malaysian economy has proved that palm oil cultivation is the way forward in developing the Sri Lanka’s economy.
“Malaysia is having a labour shortage and they bring in workers from various other countries. This could be an opportunity to give our unemployed youth an opportunity to work abroad. Foreign employment brings the highest revenue to the country,” he said.
The Ambassador also plans to conduct awareness programmes by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, who are willing to share their expertise on sustainable practices in the cultivation of palm oil. POIASL thanked the Malaysian consultants who extended their expert advice, when Sri Lanka decided to expand the palm oil cultivation about 20 years ago and any collaboration can only lead to the strengthening of this industry.