Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sabah Position As No. 1 Oil Palm State in Malaysia In Jeopardy?

Stephanie Lee reported in the front page of Daily Express (Nov 21, 2011) titled "Sabah palm oil at risk":

"Kota Kinabalu: Members of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) who breach rules by developing oil palm in areas of high conservation value will not be issued with the RSPO certification - and this may jeopardise Sabah's position as the No. 1 oil palm State in Malaysia and hugely dependant on the commodity for revenue."

How so? "RSPO Malaysia Secretary-General Darrel Webber... (learned) that the Sabah Forestry Department was having a tough time cracking down on people who keep clearing Class One forest reserves to plant oil palm by claiming native customary rights." read on...

  1. Sabah is no. 1 (means biggest) palm oil state in Malaysia.
  2. Palm oil is one of the source of revenue. [Supporting Source: Insight Sabah: Sabah Budget 2011 - Spending Big For Growth (Roll down to paragraph 5)]
  3. Sabahan palm oil growers (dubbed "faux natives" meaning they claim to have NCR of the land they're clearing) have been allegedly clearing class 1 forest for palm oil planting (which gives hard time for the Sabah Forest Department to crack) so they;
  4. Breach (one or few of) RSPO rules (on restriction on not to develop palm oil industry in high conservation value areas e.g. Class 1 forest) and thus;
  5. RSPO would not issue RSPO certification(s) to the alleged parties (in other word they will be "greylisted", not "blacklisted" mind you) and thus;
  6. No sales/trades of palm oil and its products maybe conducted (between the "whitelisted" members of RSPO) and thus;
  7. Would generate less revenue and thus:
  8. Point No. 2 would be jeopardized because of it. Hey, how about point No. 1?
Have I listed all points from the two paragraphs above? I would like to think so. However, few things don't feel right. For example:
  1. Forest clearing (including clearing Class 1 forest for any purpose, and for palm oil planting/development for any other forest class) has been happening since 'eternally' but no action has been taken, or at least enforcement is inconsistent... [Sorry no source supplied.] Only now RSPO 'learned' or mention about it?
  2. RSPO certification is almost meaningless. Why? Even "certified" members can still breach (and sell palm oil product). [Source] Even "greylisted breachers" can still sell their products through (not-so-sincere) whitelisted members. [Hearsay, sorry no source]
  3. RSPO certification is for 'so supply chain can be traced on each level/facility that uses "certified oil"'. No system is foolproof, it can be fooled! [No source supplied]
  4. Ah, NCR (native customary rights) is a sensitive things to discuss here. But Sabahan knows better that some NCR rightful owners got "owned", some got their rightful NCR after sooooooo long (sorry can't help myself :)), some not-so-right NCR holder got their NCR somehow, some NCR got "cancelled" by government after introductions of some enactments. [Not related but still a Source]

RSPO is a not-for-profit (whatever it means) association that unites stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry - oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs - to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. [Source]

According to RSPO website, Malaysia has the highest number of members by country.

In the end, I ask myself, is Sabah Position As No. 1 Oil Palm State in Malaysia In Jeopardy? Not likely if we consider the "hugeness" of palm oil plantation. We still have big companies here "doing" palm oil as opposed to "NCR" claimers clearing forest for palm oil, but of course I'll defer to Stephanie can show me if the "NCR" claimers' lands are larger than the big boys' lands. Compared to revenue to Sabah from tax of crude palm oil (CPO). A "decertification" might affect revenue but not so much due to "resourceful" (would/might-be) greylisted members of RSPO...

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