Sabah & Sarawak news (update 10): Plantation company link to Miri murder of activist Bill Kayong. Sabah pledges RSPO, 3D forest mapping by Lidar, 90 meter tree, other use of Lidar

17 July 2016: Plantation company link to Miri murder of activist Bill Kayong

Two charged over murder of Miri PKR's Bill Kayong BY KANDAU SIDI - 15 JULY 2016 MIRI: A 29-year-old car repossesor was among two people charged at the magistrate's court here today over the murder of PKR Miri branch secretary and activist Bill Kayong @ Mohd Hasbie Abdullah, who was gunned down last month. Mohamad Fitri Pauzi was charged with murdering Kayong at a traffic light intersection near the E-Mart Supermarket, Jalan Miri-Kuala Baram, at 8.20am on June 21. Pub owner Lie Chang Loon, 37, and three others who are still at large, were charged with abetting Fitri with the murder. One of persons who are still at large has been named as Lee Chee Kiang. It was learnt that Lee, 45, is attached with a plantation company. Fitri was charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder, which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction. Meanwhile, Lie was prosecuted under Section 109 of the same Act. Read More :

Coupon system to overcome fertilizer distribution for smallholders in Sarawak: Uggah BY BERNAMA - 2 MAY 2016 -- BINTULU: The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) will introduce a coupon system to overcome problems in the distribution of fertilizer to oil palm smallholders. Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas said the decision was made following claims by smallholders that they were facing difficulties to receive fertilizer.

Kemena smallholders happy with Rundi’s efforts  May 3, 2016 --  Tuai Rumah Jimbai Saban, 65, was grateful that his longhouse’s request to expand the community’s oil palm farm had been approved. “Fifty-two residents of my longhouse will be involved in this programme. MPOB has approved RM936,000 to cultivate 104 hectares. “I am confident that Rundi if elected for a third term will do much more for the people. He is very sensitive to the people’s needs,” he said. For Rundi, close cooperation with the Plantation Industries and Commodities facilitated his efforts to help the farmers in the area. “We thank the ministry for helping the smallholders. This will provide a certain amount of satisfaction for them and I believe such aid would continue,” he said. Rundi also thanked the ministry for approving RM2 million to complete the gravel road connecting the oil palm estate with the main road in Kemena. The allocation was announced by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas while launching the Commodity Smallholders Transformation Programme at the Sebauh community hall here, today.....

13 June 2016: Sabah 3D forest mapping by Lidar, 90 meter tree, other use of Lidar finds Cambodia medieval cities hidden beneath the jungle

Lidar system spots ‘tallest tree’ in the tropics 09 Jun 2016 -- At almost 90m, a Yellow Meranti is the tallest jungle tree ever discovered in reforestation research project. An 89.5m (293 foot) tall tree, equivalent in height to a column of 65 people standing on top of each other, has been discovered in Malaysia by conservation scientists using a laser-based system to monitor the impact of human activity on the biodiversity of a pristine rainforest. The tree, a Yellow Meranti (familiar to Minecraft players, who can create entire jungles of the variety) was spotted by a aircraft-borne lidar system an area of forest known as “Sabah’s Lost World” in the Maliau Basin Conservation Area, one of Malaysia’s last few untouched wildernesses. Its height pips the previous record-holder, an 88.3m example, found in the Tawau Hills National Park. The giant tree was discovered during reconnaissance flights by conservation scientists from the UK’s University of Cambridge working with the Sabah Forestry Department to help prot ct the area’s biodiversity. It comes at a crucial time, as the Sabah government takes measures to protect and restore heavily logged areas in the region....

3D mapping to decide on land use April 6, 2016 -- Carried out by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), a facility under the Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford University, the high resolution and three dimensional mapping will provide a good understanding of the structure and quality of Sabah’s forests, carbon stocks and biodiversity patterns – and help with conservation and restoration decisions. CAO, which is the most scientifically advanced aircraft-based mapping and data analytics system globally in the civil sector today, will map forest and non-forest vegetation carbon stocks, 3-D vegetation structure, and canopy tree diversity across the state’s 7.4 million hectare land area. This mapping process will provide government decision makers, scientists and conservationists an understanding on how past environmental management decisions have impacted the land and biodiversity, and how current and future decisions can make their status better. The maps will also set a baseline against which land and biodiversity management can be assessed in the coming years. The CAO aircraft is scheduled to collect data until early May 2016 as part of a partnership between CAO and the Sabah government through the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD). The partnership was initiated and facilitated by Forever Sabah....

Revealed: Cambodia's vast medieval cities hidden beneath the jungle - Exclusive: Laser technology reveals cities concealed under the earth which would have made up the world’s largest empire in 12th century  11 June 2016 -- What is a lidar survey? An airborne laser scanner (ALS) is mounted to a helicopter skid pad. Flying with pre-determined guidelines, including altitude, flight path and airspeed, the ALS pulses the terrain with more than 16 laser beams per square metre during flights. The time the laser pulse takes to return to the sensor determines the elevation of each individual data point.  The data downloaded from the ALS is calibrated and creates a 3D model of the information captured during the flights.

13 December 2015: Sabah pledges RSPO and to test HCS

Sabah To Test High Carbon Stock For Sustainable Oil Palm December 11, 2015   KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 (Bernama) -- The Sabah Forestry Department has committed to test the High Carbon Stock plus (HCS+) methodology for sustainable oil palm development in six months following the release of the HCS+ study's findings.  "We are very keen to pursue the offer from the Sabah Forestry Department which indicated that this would be very helpful for them.  "This shows that the state is very committed towards sustainable palm oil and a sustainable economy," said Forum for the Future founder Director Jonathan Porritt.

Sabah's CSPO Pledge Will Improve Smallholders Yields: MPONGOC   KOTA KINABALU, Dec 1 (Bernama) -- Smallholders who lack knowledge and support for good agricultural practices or skills such as negotiating rates for their harvest stand to gain from the Sabah Government's move to fully produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) within the next 10 years. The Malaysian Palm Oil NGO Coalition (MPONGOC) said the move will also help secure environmental benefits such as safe water supply and soil conservation, as all producers in Sabah will be both obliged and assisted to meet globally-accepted standards such as those advocated by Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).  "The commitment to help Sabah's smallholders achieve RSPO standards will future-proof their access to top-flight international markets," MPONGOC representative, Cynthia Ong, said in a statement Tuesday.

Sabah’s move to produce sustainable palm oil hailed  November 12, 2015 Read more:


22 October 2015: Sarawak asks for more than "palm oil, palm oil, palm oil,"    PT Bank Mandiri - commodity-based provinces should find new sources of economic growth as the commodity boom is over

Sarawak has to industrialise: CM 22 October 2015 by Patricia Hului BPO Newsdesk; ...In an interview with Bloomberg TV Malaysia, ‘Spotlight on Sarawak: Playing Catch-Up’ broadcast on its website Oct 21, the chief minister addressed the need for the state to industrialise, diversify its agricultural sector and increase infrastructural development....On the need for the state to industrialise, the chief minister said that Sarawak was no longer satisfied with only producing raw materials as in the old days. “We want to process these products ourselves so that we can retain the added value.” About 40 per cent of Sarawak’s economy is reliant on commodities, but contribution from manufacturing, construction, services and other industries is on the increase. “I have decided no more timber licensing, no more plantations. For the time being, give ourselves a respite and then perhaps eventually we will depend on our industry.” .... On the state’s palm oil industry, Adenan is looking to diversify the agricultural sector in Sarawak. “Food production is very slow and now we insist on palm oil, palm oil, palm oil. It’s good, but why can’t we grow other crops for production, food crops and so on,” he said, foreseeing increased interest in this area coupled with Sarawak’s availability of land for food production. Read more:
Analysis: The effect of commodity price changes on Sumatra and Kalimantan Mamay Sukaesih, Jakarta | Business | Wed, October 21 2015, 5:45 PM; .... Our analysis has revealed that commodity-based provinces should find new sources of economic growth in the future. The main reason is simply that the commodity boom is over, implying that they can’t rely on commodity-based development anymore. One of the alternatives is to promote resources-based industries such as manufacturing and adding the value of goods that have been produced in the regions. PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk. - See more at:


20 October 2015: Smallholders to get stake in independent Beluru mill project, one of 5 independent mills planned for Sarawak, Sarawak rejects trade barriers

Sarawak rejects trade barriers  By OOI TEE CHING - 17 October 2015 @ 11:00 AM; Wilmar’s refinery in Bintulu, Sarawak, was the main buyer from 41 palm oil mills across the state, absorbing 1.7 million tonnes of CPO, or half of the state’s production. In sourcing CPO to feed its refinery, the Wilmar-Unilever pledge dictated to planters in Sarawak that starting January, it will stop buying oil from estates where there are allegations of land grabbing from natives. The pledge will also lead to a halt in the sourcing of palm oil from farmers who have planted their trees in areas of “high carbon stock” and peat swamp. In an interview at his longhouse in Silas Estate near Bintulu, village head Meikle Ding spoke about his people’s sentiment.  When asked if the native customary rights (NCR) landowners had seen any tangible benefits from the Wilmar-Unilever pledge, Meikle replied: “It looks protective of us natives, but in reality our genuine business partner is Ta Ann Plantation.” He said Ta Ann, as the 60 per cent shareholder in Silas Estate, had taken considerable risk in coming up with up-front capital to lay in infrastructure to plant oil palms.  From the start of planting, even before the trees have started to bear fruit, it had given incentive payments to landowners....“As rural folks, we are simple people, but we’re certainly not simple-minded. Many of our children are working as doctors, lawyers and high-ranking diplomats serving the government in overseas missions. When asked to comment on anti-palm oil campaigns run by green activists, Meikle explained that natives were landowners as well as shareholders in the business of oil palm planting... Meikle also questioned whether the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreements would address discriminatory and oppressive business dictates from buyers like Wilmar and Unilever. His query has struck a poignant chord on global edible oils trade politics.... Earlier this week, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to harmonise and combine palm oil certification standards. Indonesia’s Chief Natural Resources Minister Rizal Ramli told the Parliament that it was time for Indonesia and Malaysia to fight and regain sovereignty on their own turf....
Smallholders welcome independent Beluru mill project September 19, 2015, Saturday; “This would be the first in Sarawak where smallholders can also purchase shares and be stakeholders in a palm oil mill,” Entri said during a project progress briefing to about 1,000 smallholders and representatives yesterday.... The projected cost of the mill would be between RM40 million and RM50 million, which would involve RM5 million worth of shares for smallholders. Entri said smallholders can enjoy multiple benefits when the mill is operational. Registered members of farmers organisations would enjoy dividends through SFO’s involvement apart from direct shares, while smallholders can also tap into technical advice, farm maintenance and production items such as weedicides and fertilisers without worrying about being fleeced by mills or collection centres while selling their fresh fruit bunches (FFB).... A special investment scheme would be set up to assist smallholders interested in purchasing shares, including loans where payment instalments could be made through deductions by the mill from FFB sales. Meanwhile, MPOB Sarawak regional head Sulim Lumong said Beluru will be one of five independent mills planned by Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas for the state... Read more:

22 August 2015: Rimba Sarawak forestry study

Adenan hits out at ‘stupid’ forest policies BY DESMOND DAVIDSON Published: 20 August 2015 5:50 PM; Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem today described the  decision by the previous administration to bar foreign researchers, ecologists, conservationists and naturalists from conducting studies on the state's forests, particularly its totally protected forests, as “stupid”.
Launching a new study called Research for Intensified Management of Bio-rich Areas of Sarawak (Rimba) and later witnessing the signing of the memorandum of understanding on it, Adenan, who became chief minister last year, said it was “stupid” not to seek foreign expertise “when we don't have the expertise”. Rimba Sarawak will be the first collaborative international study to gather what the Sarawak Forestry describes as “credible scientific information on the status and health of our totally protected forests so that the appropriate management prescriptions can be formulated for these and other bio-rich areas”.
- See more at:

20 July 2015: Wetlands International - About 82% of the Rajang Delta in Sarawak (East Malaysia) will be irreversibly flooded within 100 years and substantial areas are already experiencing drainage problems

Wetlands International Press Statement - Peatlands of South East Asia are heading towards a socio-economic disaster 6 Jul 2015; Agricultural production in vast regions of South East Asia will be lost in the coming decades as a result of flooding of extensive lowland landscapes due to unsustainable development and management of peat soils. About 82% of the Rajang Delta in Sarawak (East Malaysia) will be irreversibly flooded within 100 years and substantial areas are already experiencing drainage problems. This will increasingly impact local communities, the economy and biodiversity and will develop over time into disastrous proportions unless land-use on the region’s peatlands is radically changed. Therefore Wetlands International calls for conservation and sustainable management of peatlands in South East Asia. A study commissioned by Wetlands International and executed by Deltares suggests that extensive drainage of peatlands for oil palm cultivation in the Rajang river delta results in such massive land subsidence that this will lead to extensive and devastating flooding incidents in the coming decades.....

23 June 2015: Ta Ann new NCR JV for 60% stake in 17,000 ha (60% plantable; Sibu and Kapit area) replaces 2012 agreements revoked for lack of land owners' interest; BLD questioned over "no deforestation, no peatland" policy; Palm oil a matter of national security for Malaysia - opinion

Bunge palm oil supplier plans to clear peatlands for plantations by Rhett A. Butler June 22, 2015  BLD Plantation Bhd, a Malaysian palm oil company, plans to clear some 14,000 hectares of peatlands in Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, potentially putting it in conflict with the deforestation-free sourcing policy established by American agribusiness giant Bunge, say campaigners who filed a grievance over the matter.  In a statement issued last week, Forest Heroes announced it has formally filed a complaint via Bunge's grievance system in anticipation of BLD Plantation's peatland clearance. The complaint urges Bunge to suspend sourcing from the company, which supplies the multinational with palm oil via the Kirana refinery in Bintulu, Sarawak. It also asks BLD to adopt a zero deforestation policy and restore an area of peatland equivalent to the 6,000 ha it has already cleared.... Ta Ann and Sarawak state government in new oil palm JV projects Monday, 22 June 2015  By: M. HAFIDZ MAHPAR; KUALA LUMPUR: Ta Ann Holdings Bhd is making a second go at doing joint-venture (JV) oil palm development projects with Sarawak state-owned Land Custody and Development Authority (Pelita) after an aborted earlier attempt. Ta Ann had to cancel earlier planned projects with Pelita - a statutory body under the Sarawak Ministry of Rural and Land Development - to develop jointly three parcels of land in Mukah and Kota Samarahan totalling about 39,000ha. These agreements, signed on Sept 28, 2012, were revoked due to the land owners’ lack of interest. However, Ta Ann’s unit Ta Ann Plantation Sdn Bhd (TAP) signed two new agreements on Monday with the authority’s unit Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd to implement oil palm development projects in partnership with the Sarawak state government and native customary rights (NCR) owners. In a statement to Bursa Malaysia, the company said it would have a 60% stake while Pelita H oldings as trustee of NCR owners would have 30% and Pelita itself 10%. (For the 2012 agreenment, the proposed equity interests had been 55%, 30% and 15% respectively.) This time the JV companies plan to develop the parcels of NCR land situated in Sibu, with aggregate gross area of 17,017ha (of which an estimated 10,210.2ha are plantable area) and NCR land situated in Kapit with aggregate gross area of 11,178ha (of which an estimated 6,706.8ha are plantable).

Background news:
  • Sarawak timber firms step up tree planting to ensure constant supply Monday, 8 June 2015  By: JACK WONG;KUCHING: Timber companies in Sarawak, hit by falling log production, are stepping up tree replanting efforts to ensure future supply. WTK Holdings Bhd is expanding its forest plantation area by 12% this year, as it targets to replant 1,000ha more with fast-growing commercial timber trees. “Effort is being made on research and development to increase the seedlings’ yields and reduce planting costs,” chairman Datuk Wong Kie Yik (pic) said. The group has planted 8,000ha and Wong said it was a long-term goal to replace timber from natural forest concessions with trees from the forest plantations for downstream products in line with the state’s sustainable forest management practice.....
  • Chong blames ‘Big Six’ for deforestation Posted on May 29, 2015, Friday Chong who is also Bandar Kuching MP claimed concessions given to the ‘Big 6’ are: •Ta Ann Group of Companies:  433,003 Ha /1,069,935 acres •RH Group of Companies : 1,001,877 Ha / 2,475,604 acres; •Shin Yang Group of Companies: 500,904 Ha /1,237,716 acres; •Samling Group of Companies: 1,288,389 Ha / 3,183,565 acres; •KTS Group of Companies: 144,485 Ha / 357,017 acres  •WTK Group of Companies: 357,017 Ha / 882,176 acres.....

Palm oil a matter of national security  By Dr Ahmad Ibrahim - 22 June 2015 @ 12:00 PM; MANY may not be fully aware that oil palm is a strategic crop for the region. Both Malaysia and Indonesia, which together control almost 90 per cent of the global supply of palm oil, depend to a significant extent on oil palm for their economic wellbeing.... Oil palm has, for years, been a lifeblood of the rural economy in both countries. In fact, it would not be wrong to suggest that any serious disruption to the palm oil market may even spell dire consequences for rural households in both countries. Many families are entirely dependent on the income from oil palm for their livelihoods..... Malaysia now has about 5.4 million hectares of oil palm. Indonesia has almost twice that. Production in Malaysia has been stagnating just under 20 million tonnes a year. It has been estimated that around 250,000 small farmers contribute towards the nation’s production. In fact, smallholders account for about 50 per cent of planted hectarage in the country. But the more important statistic is that close to 2.5 million people in the country make their living from the palm oil industry. The continued wellbeing of the industry is, therefore, important to them. It has been reported that some of the nation’s richest individuals owe much of their fortunes to activities linked to palm oil.... ....... In Malaysia, Sarawak is a good example of one such case. The plan by the state to expand oil palm cultivation was met with serious opposition by NGOs. Unsavoury tactics have been used to trigger negative market sentiments among palm oil buyers. The European Union (EU) market has been especially influenced. The EU has put up non-tariff barriers to palm oil export, using greenhouse gas emission as the criteria. This has been vehemently contested by the palm oil industry.... The industry has started questioning the sincerity of such groups offering sustainability schemes. Many among industry members have expressed concern about the changing criteria of their certification schemes. They keep moving the goal posts. It is as if the agenda is not at all about sustainability. Instead, it is about making it difficult for palm oil. Smallholders are especially worried. And smallholders are naturally the ones most affected if such actions lead to reduced demand for palm oil. The ultimate pain for smallholders is the risk of a decline in demand leading to big drop in palm oil prices. Which is what is happening now. Many small farmers are now suggesting that the negative campaigns by the NGOs may be tantamount to deliberate sabotage. And as a strategic crop for the nation, palm oil must now be viewed as a matter of national security for the country. The writer is a fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia.....

7 June 2015: Sabah to pledge 100% CSPO by 2025? Dolphin Int sees strong East Malaysia demand, CIMB- Plantations update- Minimal quake effect

23 June note: On Sabah CSPO plan - one industry expert reckons that this move was initiated by Sabah authorities.

Malaysian state eyes 100% certified palm oil by 2025  May 30, 2015  Sabah, a state in Malaysian Borneo, is weighing a proposal to produce only palm oil certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an eco-certification initiative, by 2025. The move, if approved, would represent the first time a sub-national or state entity has committed to 100% certified palm oil production.  Sabah currently produces 12 percent of the world's palm oil, making it one of biggest global players. Production comes from a wide range of actors, from smallholders to some of the biggest palm oil companies. That diversity however, makes a state-wide certification approach challenging, since smallholders typically cannot afford the cost of certification.   But some officials think that obstacle may be worth overcoming if it enables Sabah to differentiate its palm oil from other producers, especially given the rise in the number of companies that have adopted social and environmental safeguards for palm oil sourcing.  “Both global demand and downstream industries will increasingly pull the supply chain for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil and Sabah must act to be ahead of the curve,” said Sam Mannan, Director of the Sabah Forestry Department, which owns about 100,000 hectares of palm oil plantations in the state. "With time, large competitors will inevitably outpace Sabah’s total output of palm oil but with certification, Sabah can build itself as a niche producer of a branded good – i.e. certified palm oil, and compete on the basis of governance and not size.”  Read more:

Upcoming listing Dolphin International sees strong demand from East Malaysia by Ronnie Teo Posted on June 4, 2015, Thursday KUCHING: Dolphin International Bhd, which aims to list on the main market of Bursa Malaysia next Tuesday, anticipates strong demand from Sabah and Sarawak for its palm oil machinery. As a company involved in the design, development, fabrication and sale of products for the palm oil milling machineries sector, Dolphin International is indeed in a unique position to tap into the many demands of the plantations sector. Within Malaysia, Dolphin’s role mainly focuses on machineries and automation in palm oil milling. As such, plantation owners, as well as commercial palm oil millers are key customers for the group, it told The Borneo Post in an interview yesterday. Read more:
CIMB- Plantations update- Minimal quake effect: A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the state of Sabah, prompting concerns that palm oil output from Sabah, which account for 31% of Malaysia’s palm oil production, could be affected. Our checks with the planters reveal that their palm oil operations have either been unaffected or just minimally impacted by the event as most of their estates are located some distance away from where the earthquake struck. We maintain our Neutral rating.
News links 

26 April 2015: Uggah: Sellers of FFB must include names - FFB thefts in Sarawak was a matter of concern

Uggah: Sellers of FFB must include names; Posted on April 18, 2015, Saturday; KUCHING: Sellers of palm oil fresh fruit bunches (FFB) are now required to put down their names and particulars to be sent to Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) for monitoring and checking purposes.
This is a new strategy introduced with the aim to curb the never-ending thefts of fresh fruits bunch in the state, says Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah.
He said mills and collection centres were only initially required to record the quantity of the FFB sold to them but now they had to get the names of the sellers as well. “Failing to get their names means the collection centres are committing an offence and stern action will be taken against them,” he told a media conference after chairing a second meeting to discuss FFB issues here yesterday. Deputy Home Minister Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and representatives from other relevant agencies were also present; Uggah lamented that the FFB thefts in Sarawak was a matter of concern because despite the operation code-named Ops Sawit Kenyalang mounted from July 1 to December last year there was still no end to the problem. Ops Sawit Kenyalang 2015 was launched on April 2.
He said that from January to March this year the authority had received 82 reports of FFB thefts throughout the state involving a total area of 18,192 hectares including Samarahan, Sibu, Mukah, Kapit and Miri. “To prevent the sales of FFB from suspicious sources MPOB has issued a directive which restricts mills from buying more than two tonnes of FFB per hectare,” he said. Uggah said through the operation conducted by MPOB and various other enforcement agencies including the police from July to December last year a total of 278 compounds and 41 show cause letters had been issued to several operators to explain why their licences should not be suspended......
Read more:

24 April 2015: Salcra to build new palm oil mill in Merindun

Salcra to build new palm oil mill in Merindun Posted on April 24, 2015, Friday; SARAWAK Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) has obtained approval from Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to construct a new palm oil mill in Merindun in line with its development plan.
According to Assistant Minister of Land Development Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz, the new mill located near the old mill that was partly destroyed by a fire last year, would have a processing capacity of 60 metric tonnes (MT) per hour and upgradeable to 120MT per hour. “Site preparations and other civil works for the new mill commenced in July last year and is expected to be operational by the end of 2016,” he said in response to Johnichal Rayong’s (BN-Engkilili) query on whether Salcra would build a new palm oil mill in Merindun. On a related matter, Abdul Wahab said Salcra would continue to purchase FFBs from smallholders who have signed long-term contracts to sell their FFBs to Lubok Antu Palm Oil Mill..... Read more:

18 April 2015: Drag plantations to Environment Court over riparian says CJ of Sabah and Sarawak

Drag plantations to court: CJ April 18, 2015; Kota Kinabalu: The best way to get plantation bosses and others to ensure they respect riparian areas is to sue them for growing oil palm or other crops illegally right to the river bank, thus affecting wildlife movement and river quality. "Encroachment of riparian reserves is subject to challenge in court especially if the evidence is good now that the Environment Court has been set up since January 2015.  "If only anybody such as NGOs take an action in court and say 'look we want this to be declared a wrong action, get a judicial review or declaration in court, it's there," said Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum.
Malanjum said this when asked to clarify on Land Ordinance Sabah (Cap 68) Section 26 (1)(2) which specifies riparian reserves along all rivers , even small rivers must be kept.
He spoke at a joint press conference, Thursday, with State Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, in conjunction with the Workshop on Environment organised by the Judiciary-initated Sabah Working Group on Environment, at UMS.

18 November 2014: RSPO RT12: Sabah considering 100 percent RSPO by 2025?

Moderator Cynthia Ong on the Reaching the Market discussion reports that Sabah stakeholders are discussing 100 percent CSPO by 2025. She says authorities, industry, civil society and small holders are discussing. She is championing this move for Sabah.
Cynthia Ong asked Wilmar if they would support such a Sabah move. Wilmar notes that there are many who are not RSPO members abd that various types certification may be used.
Darrell Webber (RSPO Secretary General) notes there is more talk of jurisdictional approach as it's hard to certify smallholders.
MR Chandran (RSPO Advisor) suggests getting downstream players getting uptake commitment. He notes the Sabah Chief Minister has recently endorsed the RSPO. If Sabah can pull this off it would be an example for the rest of the world.
Companies who have cleared after 2005 may need to comply with the RSPO's Compensation Liability. Darrell Webber notes that 280,000 hectares (globally) need to be compensated for. He says that it would be good if the government is involved as they could help with conservation area planning for the RSPO Compensation if Sabah were to go 100 percent RSPO certified.
MR Chandran picks up on question on cost or cost sharing. He reckons the downstream players need to be involved in this cost share. On cost Cynthia Ong reckons that Sabah government, industry and RSPO could help fund Sabah smallholder certification. She asks if others would help too.

Peat (update 3): Norway to develop peatland-friendly agriculture in Indonesia, Haze Can Only Be Overcome Through Peat Soil Management - Dr Lulie Melling, MOEF 50 boreholes, US$67 million in grants for peat lands restoration

26 May 2016: Haze Can Only Be Overcome Through Peat Soil Management - Dr Lulie Melling

Haze Can Only Be Overcome Through Peat Soil Management, Says Expert MEDAN, May 21 (Bernama)...Dr Lulie Melling said the cooperation would also help solve the haze problem which has affected the socio-economy and health of citizens in the region. "One of the most appropriate methods to resolve the problem of peat fires is by compacting the soil using excavators and this will consolidate the peat soil. "Consolidating the soil will increase the soil bulk density and increase the moisture holding capacity of the soil. The moisture content of the peat soil is increased via a better capillary rise of the soil, thus, at the same time, it will moisten the peat to prevent the occurrence of fire," she told Bernama here recently.....

12 May 2016: Norway to develop peatland-friendly agriculture in Indonesia, MOEF 50 boreholes, US$67 million in grants for peat lands restoration 

Norway to develop peatland-friendly agriculture in Indonesia, 4 Mei 2016, "Well help Indonesia in mastering how to cultivate plants without drying the peat lands, and how to increase the value added of the plants. There are some plants that can grow without drying the peat, such as sago," Traavik said here on Tuesday.... He added that the Norwegian government will also help to market the commodities produced through peat-friendly agricultural practices.... The Ambassador said in principle, Norway is ready to support all efforts to prevent damage that land and forest fires cause. According to him, the important thing to prevent forest fires, especially in peat lands, is not to let the lands dry up. "If the land becomes dry, then no technology in the world can cope with it. And if it burns, Indonesia will have a very big problem," he explained... During the visit, the ambassador, the agency, as well as the representatives of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry inaugurated 50 boreholes which serve to moisten the lands. Earlier, in February 2016, the government of Norway had allocated a grant of US$50 million to help the peat lands restoration program in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the US government has also allocated a grant of $17 million....

2 March 2016: MPOC paper 'A Historical Perspective of Peat Exploitation in Europe and its Sustainability,'  Indonesia's transmigration and two mega fires, USA $1 billion price tag on methane emission disaster, Sabah socio-political impasse on Kinabatangan environmental corridor project

Editor's note: I will start to prepare my summary paper for the 15th International Peat Congress 2016, 15-19 August, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. The paper is entitled "Haze control and the oil palm farmer – a review of policy options." This builds on earlier work published by The Habibie Center:  Haze Control through the Sustenance of Indonesian Oil Palm Smallholders by Khor Yu Leng, Johan Saravanamuttu and Deborah Augustin. You can find the article by downloading the Nov 2015 newsletter by The Habibie Center by clicking on this link: Referring page: - newsletters section. Below also a link to how a more litigious society handles an air pollution crisis with climate damage - the case of SoCalGas in the USA. The issue of rural livelihoods also comes to the fore in the reported problem in Sabah about unwillingness of enough local peoples to contribute their land to a Kinabatangan project - state politicians sound neither keen to pay for the land and nor push for compulsory land acquisition. Again the question arises: who pays?

Info below on Sarawak hosting IPC 2016 and click here:

MPOC has just published a new paper titled 'A Historical Perspective of Peat Exploitation in Europe and its Sustainability'  at its Journal of Oil Palm, Environment and Health (JOPEH)...In the same period (1990-2008), Malaysia lost about 31,500 hectares, or about 1% of its peatland area. This figure only represents about less than 3% of the total peatland loss in Asia. (The highest peat loss in Asia during this time frame is in Indonesia, which lost about 450,000 hectares)...

Suharto and Haze BY VERDINAND ROBERTUA 29 Feb 2016; ...As greater numbers of transmigrants went to outer Indonesia in the early to mid-1980s, the forest areas designated for transmigration projects were not adequate and protected forests were cut down. The catastrophic East Kalimantan fire in 1983 which destroyed 3,000,000 hectares of primary and secondary forests is considered as impact of massive sponsored transmigration. In the 3 million hectare area covered by the 1982-1983 fires in Kalimantan, only 11 percent of old-growth forest burned, while over 80 percent of logged areas burned..... The second disaster was the million-hectare peat-swamp project in Central Kalimantan. Beginning in 1995, the Suharto regime embarked on its last and most disastrous megadevelopment project – a scheme to transform peat forests covering more than 1 million hectare in the heart of Kalimantan into a rice-growing region colonized by more than 1,5 million transmigrants from Java. The region in question constitutes a large part of the largest peat-swamp floodplain in western Indonesia and contains some of the oldest and deepest peat deposits on the planet...

How Do You Stop the Biggest Gas Leak Ever? Inside the efforts to plug SoCalGas’s methane disaster. by Karen Weise  Bloomberg Businessweek Reprints February 10, 2016; ...The leak had been spewing for about two weeks. Southern California Gas Co., the subsidiary of Sempra Energy that owns the facility at Aliso Canyon, had tried and failed to kill it..... Based on Conley’s readings, the state would estimate that in less than a month, Aliso released more than 68 million pounds of methane. Since then, it’s leaked 132 million pounds more, the state says, based on Conley’s subsequent flights... Aliso potentially the largest-ever single release of methane into the atmosphere—at least, the largest ever recorded....Sempra Energy, has said it has more than $1 billion in insurance coverage that it believes will cover many of the current and expected a worst-case scenario, Sempra could face a bill of as much as $900 million, says Brandon Barnes, an energy litigation analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. If the leak is stopped by the end of March, the total cost could be about $250 million, he estimates. That includes roughly $115 million to stop the leak and relocate families, $40 million for civil liabilities, and $11 million in state fines. One of the biggest expenses could come from mitigating the climate damage, which the state says it will require. Buying carbon offsets would cost about $92 million, according to Barnes’s calculations.....

Sabah’s ‘Corridor of Life’ hits snag as landowners say no to acquisition BY JULIA CHAN March 1, 2016; Sabah is facing a major stumbling block in its Kinabatangan “Corridor of Life” wildlife conservation project as landowners in the highly cultivable region are unwilling to give up their plots for conservation purposes....  the state was not keen, however, to use the Land Acquisition Act to compel the landowners to give up or sell their land as they do not want to upset any party. “We want them to be partners in conservation but they won’t be good partners if we force them to sell their land. We want it to be as amicable as possible, through friendly persuasion. “The other option is land acquisition but buying land is not cheap and we hope to avoid this. We feel the best situation is when the people feel they have ownership of the programme, so that they are willing to help and want to contribute to the success of the programme.“We are not giving up. Sooner or later, the owners will see the logic in the corridor,” he said....

19 May 2015: Peat classification based on USDA.

Editor's note: Just as we were writing this blog posting we receive courtesy of Dr Param, a copy of his recent presentation:
"ROLE OF UNIFIED PEAT CLASSIFICATION IN THE MSPO CERTIFICATION SCHEME"  Paper presented at the MPOA Forum: Sustainability the MSPO Way  30th April 2015 by Paramananthan, S., Ramadasan, K., Tan, Y.A.

Do contact the authors and/or MPOA for a copy.

Key slides include the following:
  • 12: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS: Malaysian Unified Peat Classification – BETTER characterizes Tropical Peat Soils. Separates fibric / hemic / sapric
  • Recognizes Depth Classes - Topo, Ombro. Recognizes: Presence / absence of wood. Nature of wood: Decomposed, Undecomposed.  Identifies – underlying mineral substratum
  • 14: MSPO vs RSPO: RSPO makes blanket ruling – NO OIL PALM ON PEAT. MSPO must be realistic - Need to eradicate poverty (smallholders) What to do with oil palms already on Peat. Can these areas be replanted.
  • 18: CRITERIA TO BE USED FOR DECISION - TECHNICAL SUITABILITY YIELD ON DIFFERENT PEAT TYPES Example: Peat Characteristics and Its Impact on Yield (Ramesh et al., 2014)

Source: Paramananthan et al. 30 April 2015

Info below on Sarawak hosting IPC 2016 and click here:

14 May 2015: Smaller producers and smallholders drive expansion into marginal areas?

Editor's note: I had an interesting chat with one of the highly respected planters of the Malaysia palm oil sector last night. I was interviewing him for the Felda smallholder case study report (now in completion stage). He expressed the view that it is most likely that most plantable areas will become planted (barring a big discouraging price drop) including forest and peat zones; because of the consumption boom and also the desire for profits and livelihoods.

Just after attending a full day of the Singapore Dialogue hosted by Simon Tay / SIIA where the smallholder word kept popping up again and again, the reasoning is clear. It is widely understood that areas that cannot be planted under pledges made by the largest plantations is likely to be planted by smaller producers and smallholders. That is, unless the big plantation might hold on to the set-aside areas. At the forum there was talk of a new type of land licence that might permit the largest plantations to do this in Indonesia. This seems to be in place for Olam's project in Gabon with its big set-asides. What about elsewhere? The Bunge representative also spoke of a need to make natural capital markets pay i.e. is there a premia or payment to retain forests and peat zones?
Read more here:
Singapore Dialogue (update 1a): SIIA / Simon Tay dialogue in Singapore centered on palm oil sustainability, Indonesia extends moratorium, ASEAN banks under WWF spotlight /khorreports-palmoil/2015/05/attended-siia-simon-tay-dialogue-in.html
Peat has become a controversial area for new oil palm development. It has been increasingly declared "no go" ever since the December 2013 Wilmar-TFT-Greenpeace associates deal and the Greenpeace HCS Approach. It seems to be part of the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP). The Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto's (more centered on Malaysia plantations with some Indonesia cross-over participation with IPOP members too) HCS is looking at it too. The reality is that most big plantations avoid peat anyway as they focus on their land banks in lower development cost zones. Those left to contemplate oil palm on peat are most likely the smaller producers and smallholders living in those areas (with few other options to move away and no better profit / earning generating crop or non-crop livelihood option available).
We understand that there has been substantive work in Malaysia on the different types of peat and its suitability for planting. This topic has been replete with rhetoric but specialists point out that it has been rather too short on scientific data from within the tropical peat zone. On this point, we can look forward to what new empirical work is being done by the Manifesto's HCS. And likewise, scientific data is being discussed by the Tropical Peat Research Laboratory of Sarawak (the work of the irrepresible Dr Lulie Melling has been cited by the very important Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change/IPCC and many others: This is no surprise given the surfeit of peat in the East Malaysian state and their facing the prospect of having limited promising alternative economic projects for their peat zone peoples.
So, there will be an important International Peat Congress, 15-19 August 2016 (next year) in Sarawak. Dr Lulie Melling says: "We are going to create a few histories.... The International Union of Soil Science has agreed to support this congress....which means this is a scientific forum in which no one can conveniently disqualify scientific publications.... On top of that we also have lead partners from Indonesia in this Congress."
Links are below.
Dear all,
Greetings from Sarawak. The Malaysian Peat Society (MPS) in partnership with International Peat Society (IPS) will be hosting the 15th International Peat Congress 2016 (15th IPC 2016) for the first time outside of Europe and North America.
The theme of the congress is ‘Peatlands in Harmony– Agriculture, Industry & Nature'. As the theme suggests, this congress will relate to an integrated global perspective for the responsible use of peatlands and the preservation of their unique dynamics and natural biodiversity. The Congress will also provide for researchers, academics and practitioners, an ideal platform to congregate, share information and discuss their scientific results and experiences, with particular reference to peat and peatlands in tropics.
On behalf of the Organizing committee, we hope that you could participate as a participant or present a paper. For paper presentation, we would be very grateful if you could send us the title and an abstract of not more than 300 words.
I believe that this Congress will provide you with a fruitful intellectual experience as well as a memorable visit to Sarawak. We look forward to seeing you on our shores!
Enclosed is the First Announcement.  If you require any further information, please feel free to visit us at
We look forward to your acceptance and welcoming you in Kuching, Sarawak and your participation in this forthcoming Congress.
Lulie Melling, PhD
Tropical Peat Research Laboratory
Chief Minister's Department)
Lot 6035, Kuching-Kota Samarahan Expressway
94300 Kota Samarahan
Tel : +6082-662491 (0) +6082-662495 (D)
+6082-662497 (Fax)

Smallholders: Links for RISDA and FELCRA of Malaysia, Over 400,000 oil palm smallholders in Malaysia eye MSPO certification says NASH (independent smallholders are those with under 40 ha of oil palm land); Indonesia targets 5.5 million ha of forest to local people with 2.5 mill ha targeted for 2015 with 20% from forest concession areas (forestry companies raise concerns); Pope Francis urges rights for downtrodden against "new colonialism"; RM900 per Felda settler dividend plus "duit raya" / Eid gift but not for some 13,947 settlers (about 6.5% of total) who have sued Felda or who have not participated in Felda replanting, carried out unauthorized activities or sold produce outside Felda

18 October 2015: Links for RISDA and FELCRA of Malaysia

RISDA is big. 1 million ha. and can compare to 2002. and news here: and Objective: Smallholders earn at least RM2, 500 per month by the end of 2015 the family.

14 July 2015: Over 400,000 oil palm smallholders in Malaysia eye MSPO certification says NASH (independent smallholders are those with under 40 ha of oil palm land)

Big boost for small palm oil planters in Malaysia Hanim Adnan, The Star/ANN, Petaling Jaya | Business | Mon, July 06 2015, 3:58 PM; Over 400,000 oil palm smallholders in Malaysia will finally get to see their estates certified as producers of sustainable palm oil under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification standard initiated by the Government.With an initial fund of 50 million ringgit (US$13.2 million) allocated for this purpose, many independent smallholders are more receptive towards getting the MSPO certification, compared with the stringent rules and costly auditing process imposed on them when trying to acquire Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, which is the world’s first palm oil certification standard. “For independent smallholders with oil palm land size of 40 hectares and below, it is just too expensive to fork out the certification fee of 10,000 ringgit to get the RSPO agents to audit their land.“The stringent rules have also put off their interest to be RSPO-certified,” says National Association of Smallholders (NASH) president Aliasak Ambia. Unlike the organised smallholders under the Felda settlers scheme whose cost for RSPO certification is mostly supported by Felda, independent smallholders in the country lack the financial back-up to undergo RSPO auditing, he says.“What more with the stringent RSPO auditing which often questions local smallholders on their crop yield, and, agricultural and management practice which has resulted in many smallholders in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia rejecting the RSPO sustainability movement,” says Aliasak. - See more at:

Could Europe’s drive to segregated palm oil exclude small producers? By Caroline Scott-Thomas+, 02-Jun-2015 A European push toward segregated certified sustainable palm oil may inadvertently exclude smaller producers from the supply chain, says GreenPalm manager Bob Norman.

10 July 2015: Indonesia targets 5.5 million ha of forest to local people with 2.5 mill ha targeted for 2015 with 20% from forest concession areas (forestry companies raise concerns); Pope Francis urges rights for downtrodden against "new colonialism"

Pope Francis on Thursday urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a "new colonialism" by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the "sacred rights" of labor, lodging and land.... In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope also asked forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic Church in its treatment of native Americans during what he called the "so-called conquest of America." .... Quoting a fourth century bishop, he called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil," and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labor for developed countries.....

New ruling upsets forestry firms | The Jakarta Post; Indonesia. The government has set a target of allocating 5.5 million hectares of forest to local people in the next four years, the majority of which will be taken from around 30 million hectares of existing forest concession areas...... This year alone, the government plans to give 2.5 million hectares of forest to local people, with 20 percent from concession areas..... Forestry companies have raised concerns over a new ministerial regulation that requires them to allocate at least 20 percent of their existing concession areas t…

8 July 2015: RM900 per Felda settler dividend plus "duit raya" / Eid gift but not for some 13,947 settlers (about 6.5% of total) who have sued Felda or who have not participated in Felda replanting, carried out unauthorized activities or sold produce outside Felda; Najib points to FGV hopes for 420,000 hectares in PNG

Dividends and aid for Felda settlers  By Syed Umar Ariff and Teoh Pei Ying - 7 July 2015 @ 8:18 PM;  JELEBU: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today announced a total of RM88.8 million in Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) dividends and raya aid that would be distributed to almost 100,000 Felda settlers nationwide. Out of the total, RM59.2 million were FGV dividends and RM29.6 million raya aid to 98,688 Felda settlers. "I hope that the raya aid will ease the financial burden of settlers in preparation for Hari Raya. "But those who are Felda settlers but do not participate in Felda schemes, or do not send their crops to Felda will not receive dividends or duit raya," said Najib at the break of fast event with settlers in Felda Pasong 4. Najib said payment would be made on July 13. The payment of the dividends were of 6 cents interim dividend, and 4 cents final dividend. Also present was Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad.

Najib announces RM88.8 million for Felda settlers, payment starts next week Published: 7 July 2015 8:39 PM; "We need to be with Felda, do not stray too far away... actually those who confuse Felda people are those who come to Felda like pests out to poison the minds of settlers so much so when we do good, the people say otherwise," he told Bernama. He said Felda has various plans to improve the income of settlers and overcome the constraints of land to be developed as plantations in the country. He added that FGV planned to purchase 420,000 hectares of land in Papua New Guinea which could generate revenue double the amount in this country as the volcanic land there is fertile. - See more at:

Anak sees red with Felda by Malaysiakini 1:53PM Jul 8, 2015; National Felda Settlers' Children's Association (Anak) has slammed Felda for depriving settlers of their annual payment for initiating legal action against the agency. This is after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak yesterday announced a RM600 dividend and RM300 "duit raya" for Felda settlers but excluded those who had sued Felda. Settlers who refused to participate in Felda's replanting scheme, carry out land activities without its authorisation or did not sell their produce to Felda were also excluded. Anak president Mazlan Aliman (photo) described this as a victimisation of settlers and an act of revenge.  "If they sue Felda.. It is the settlers' right as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Several Felda settlers had sued the agency, claiming Felda cheated them by using an inferior grade to determine the purchase price of their oil palm fruit even though they were of superior quality. Mazlan said a total of 13,947 settlers were denied payment for the second year in a row....

27 June 2015: PAS bids Anak chief goodbye but vows to keep helping group ; MPOB getting tough with rogue planters and middlemen, 23,000 Sarawak Smallholders Licensed To Sell FFB

PAS bids Anak chief goodbye but vows to keep helping group Published: June 16, 2015 04:07 PM GMT+8; PAS bids Anak chief goodbye but vows to keep helping group Published: June 16, 2015 04:07 PM GMT+8 Share this article - See more at:

MPOB getting tough with rogue planters and middlemen — Uggah Posted on May 24, 2015, Sunday; SRI AMAN: The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has received 300 complaints of theft from oil palm planters with 13 people caught, 24 planters given show-cause letters and eight vehicles confiscated. Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas revealed that the cases were recorded in Miri and Sibu areas. “For this, I am giving a warning to factories not to buy stolen oil palm fruits from any unknown parties and we have directed factories to have a record of fruit bought from genuine licensed planters,” he said at a press conference after officiating at the Transformation and Development Programme for small oil palm planters in Sarawak held at Hotel Sri Simanggang here yesterday. “We also do not allow these planters to sell two tonnes at one time in a month and 24 tonnes a year. There is a system where the factory must refuse to buy fruits from planters when it has exceeded two tonnes   he added.Uggah also wants collection centres to submit reports to MPOB with a list of sellers including the tonnage and the centre’s total purchase figures.

‘Ops Sawit Kenyalang’ a success — Sulim Posted on May 25, 2015, Monday SIMUNJAN: Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)’s `Ops Sawit Kenyalang’ that was launched last July has achieved remarkable success with at least 800 new licences issued monthly to smallholders throughout the state. MPOB Sarawak regional head Sulim Lumong said the monthly 800 new licencees represented an increase of 600 new licencees when compared to the figure before the launch of the special operation. “For the month of April this year, we approved 1,414 applications. Up to date, we have 23,000 licenced smallholders with a total area of 140,188 hectares for the whole of Sarawak,” he said when met by reporters at a new palm oil plantation site at Kampung Sg Alit here yesterday. Sulim pointed out that the big increment happened after the government implemented the ‘two tonnes per hectare’ policy. “A lot of smallholders did not apply for the licence because they can tumpang (ask help for sale) here and there. When we implemented the policy, they cannot sell already. So they got no choice but to apply.” He said farmers were not required to register when they first started out, but a smallholder licence must now be acquired before they could sell the fresh fruit bunch (FFB). Read more:

RM1 million federal aid for 95 oil palm smallholders by Lim How Pim, Posted on May 25, 2015, Monday; SIMUNJAN: Ninety-five smallholders in Kampung Sg Alit here have received federal subsidies totalling over RM1 million for planting oil palm. Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the subsidies were for land preparation and purchase of seedlings, fertilisers and pesticides. “The total area is 118 hectares and RM9,000 is given per hectare. This is for a period of two years and should enable the smallholders to produce fresh fruit bunch (FFB),” he said when met by reporters after presenting the subsidies to representatives at Kampung Sg. Alit, about 100km from Kuching yesterday. Present was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri. Uggah said the government also granted subsidies of RM3,000 per hectare for smallholders who were not participants of the Smallholders Development and Transformation Programme. Each family is entitled to such subsidy for a maximum of three hectares. “We notice some smallholders are keen to plant oil palm so they buy seedlings and do land preparation themselves. But along the way they have problems buying the inputs, and that’s where we come in to support them. Read more:

23,000 Sarawak Smallholders Licensed To Sell FFB  Published on Monday, 25 May 2015 07:35; SIMUNJAN -- Some 23,000 smallholders in Sarawak are licensed to sell oil palm fresh fruit bunches (FFB) as of April this year, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas. He said this involved 140,188 hectares of land cultivated with oil palm. "In July 2014, when the Ops Sawit Kenyalang crackdown was launched to curb theft of FFB, only about 200 smallholders had the licence. "Since then there was a rush for the licence. We are very strict now, all millers and collection centres must submit names of sellers of FFB each month the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)," he told reporters after handing over oil palm seedlings to farmers of the Kg Sg Alit Oil Palm Cluster in Simunjan, Sunday.

23 June 2015: Palm oil a matter of national security for Malaysia (especially for smallholder interests) - opinion - /khorreports-palmoil/2014/11/rspo-meeting-sabah-considering-100.html

22 June 2015: While the FGV-EHP proposed deal has raised market concerns, an argument for the deal: it is a strategic partnership to benefit smallholders and other stakeholders?
FGV-EHP partnership: a way forward to prosperity for two nations – HS Dillon Published: 20 June 2015 12:49 PM; The recent press statements reporting that Felda Global Ventures (FGV) intends to buy a substantial stake in EHP, and the ensuing debate, revive old memories. It is indeed remarkable that what had been my dream as a senior official of Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture, thwarted by vested-interests nearly quarter of a century ago, is now being promoted by visionary entrepreneurs.
Obsessed with creating greater equality in rural Indonesia, I gladly welcomed my appointment as Head of The Team for Restructuring State-owned Plantations in 1993. Due to strong support from the then very honest minister of finance, Marie Muhammad, we managed to consolidate the previous 26 separate corporate entities into nine plantation groups. Talking to the press after the brief meeting, the PM stated that Malaysia, facing land constraints, had no other option but to invest in oil-palm plantations in Indonesia. We then started to explore avenues for cooperation with senior Malaysian officials, including private placement into our state plantations. With the best Malaysian plantation management practices, utilising state-of-the-art technology, and good corporate governance, we could have launched an IPO within five to six years after entering into such a partnership. Therein, the Malaysian investors would have reaped relatively quick yields, and our state-owned plantations would have ranked among the best. Of course, the powers that be in Indonesia, gleaning rents from the status quo, did not allow this to materialise; but that is a different story.... Most of the current exchange has revolved around whether the Heads of Agreement signed last week by the two parties is commercially sound, in the narrow sense of generating immediate profits for their shareholders....But that which has been omitted from the exchange is what interests me the most: the smallholders and other stakeholders. This is more than just another B2B deal, it is a People-Private Partnership on both sides. Most observers apparently are not aware of the genesis of FGV, and do not realise that more than a 100,000 members of Felda are shareholders. Around 60 years ago, former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman decided to launch a massive initiative to help poor rural households climb out of poverty, who at point were not very different from their Indonesian cousins.....Education and rural infrastructure managed to lay the foundations of a productive middle-class. Now the descendants of the erstwhile poor Malaysian smallholders have become bosses, with oil-palm holdings being tended by the progeny of the still poor rural Indonesian households. Indeed, by overcoming rent and wage barriers to expansion, this FGV-EHP partnership should enable Felda members to continue earning handsome returns, but around the same number of Indonesian smallholders already partnering with EHP in contract-farming schemes, also stand to benefit.....FGV institutional memory would be better suited to striking rapport with rural Papuan households, for instance, than the colonial institutional memory inherited by a number of Indonesian plantation managers.....What would be the repercussions, or what economists call second-round effects? Other Indonesian plantation groups might enter into such partnerships to remain competitive...

1 May 2015: The Corporate Capture of Sustainable Development by Leslie Sklair; /khorreports-palmoil/2015/05/the-corporate-capture-of-sustainable.html

29 April 2015: Could the fall in palm oil prices be good news for farmers?

Also on Felda settler smallholders here: /khorreports-palmoil/2015/04/felda-settlers-study-sneak-peak.html

Could the fall in palm oil prices be good news for farmers? By Jaboury Gazoul  Apr 24 2015
Thus when the palm oil price declines, so does fertilizer affordability. The capital and credit available to large commercial oil palm companies buffers them from low prices, and allows them to continue to purchase and apply fertilizer. Capital and credit are not so readily available to smallholders. Even when smallholders have ready access to fertilizers through links to companies, their fertilizer costs are deducted from their Fresh Fruit Bunch sales to these companies. Consequently, smallholders have been reducing fertilizer inputs, and yields on smallholder plantations in Indonesia are declining. The gap between the success of large company plantations and that of smallholders is widening
..........The situation in Africa is very different. In West Africa, the development costs of large palm oil estates are more than twice as high as in Indonesia. These ventures are profitable only if the price of palm oil remains high. With low prices, these actors are now rethinking their investment and development strategies. Many projects have greatly downsized, postponed or abandoned oil palm development altogether. Structural factors such as the availability of, and access to, land for development is a key limitation, but this has been exacerbated by the current low prices for palm oil. Some companies, however, have sought to increase partnerships with the smallholder sector through outgrower schemes. Such schemes comprise a central milling facility that is supplied by smallholders who receive inputs and technical assistance from the company. In this way, the industries can meet their production targets while shifting the burden of development onto smallholders who become indebted to banks for the extended credit. Smallholder debts are gradually repaid as the Fresh Fruit Bunches are delivered to the industrial mill. In the past governments had to “force” companies to engage with smallholders, but today outgrower schemes are high on the companies’ agenda. This opens a window of opportunity for small-scale farmers to enter the sector, benefiting from a more level playing field. It also, however, exposes them to higher risks. If the palm oil price continues to drop, smallholders might prove unable to repay their Cameroon, smallholders will have room to grow, but limited support will stymie their efforts to do so. The new National Strategy for the Development of Sustainable Palm Oil Production will likely oblige companies to work with smallholders, but the extent and depth of this obligation remains uncertain.....In Colombia, the combination of low palm oil prices and bud rot disease, which afflicts around 25% of the planted area, affect the viability of the oil palm sector, reflected by the recent decline in the oil palm expansion. High production costs already make the sector heavily reliant on governmental incentives. Low prices and widespread disease is sapping the political will for continued support of this sector (an issue that is further complicated by government negotiations with rebel groups who hold sway in some areas where oil palm is grown). At present, smallholders and other producers are buffered from low international prices by a national price stabilization fund and import tariffs (and a large domestic biofuel market), but this only serves to increase the sector’s dependency on government support to maintain market competitiveness............So the effect of palm oil price declines on smallholder communities varies by region. It is not always bad, but neither is it obviously good. In Africa at least, concerns about massive ‘land grabbing’ by oil palm companies in Africa are somewhat alleviated for now. Smallholders might capitalize on this hiatus, but only if they can overcome the barriers to entry. Ironically, it is company outgrower schemes, as developed in Indonesia and increasingly in West Africa, that might be the means by which these barriers are overcome. Should this be achieved, then preferential expansion of oil palm by smallholders might hold the seeds for a more equitable distribution of economic benefits. It might also allow for more heterogeneous and patchy landscapes, which is good for biodiversity. This possible future needs support and facilitation by large oil palm companies, producer states, but also by corporate buyers who have social responsibility to promote livelihood and environmental sustainability......This article is published in collaboration with ETH Zurich. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum....

16 February 2015: RSPO certification and compliance cost cited at just over RM400,000 per site per year (50 smallholders @50 hectares)

Info cited of a real quote on smallholder RSPO certification costing from a service provider. About RM400,000 per site per year; for a site comprising 50 smallholders of 50 hectares each. We did ask, but the name of service provider is not disclosed at this point. We know a handful are active in this sector. The conclusion is that the current premia indicate break-even for such a smallholder (assumes 100 percent of certificates sold under mass balance); which means no incentive to certify unless with the financial support of a large company. Bottom line: companies with processing assets can garner more from RSPO certification; the premia gains are out of reach of smallholders.
First posted here on 14 Feb 2015: /khorreports-palmoil/2015/02/attended-mpoc-forum.html

Note: The lack of incentive for smallholders then ties in with the rising effort of large companies to create special support programs. Olam has been active on smallholder projects - its core business is about gathering numerous products from many smallholders. Also note the Danone and Mars project below.

12 February 2015: Danone and Mars move on smallholder sustainability and livelihoods with fund - debt finance, farmer incomes, carbon credits...

Danone and Mars launch £79m fund for smallholder farmers The Guardian - ‎Feb 5, 2015‎
Fund will prioritise key crops including vanilla, cocoa, sugar and palm oil, but Oxfam says multinationals need to improve everyday dealings with smallholders... This content is sponsored. by Oliver Balch. Thursday 5 February 2015 07.29 EST.... Danone and Mars, two of the world’s largest food multinationals, yesterday announced their intention to invest €120 million (£79m) over the next decade in an investment fund aimed at increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers.... The Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming will make between four and five investments per year, averaging around €3-5m (£2.3m-£3.8m) each. The projects, which will span Africa, Latin America and Asia, will focus on low-tech, sustainable farming practices that are easy to adopt and quick to scale.... The rationale behind focusing on the world’s 500 million family farmers is self-explanatory, according to Victoria Mars, chairman of the board at the eponymous US confectioner whose brands include M&Ms, Twix and Snickers. Smallholders make up over 70% of the world’s production of raw materials, she notes: “So if we’re going to have all the ingredients we need to make our products, we have an interest in helping them.”.... Danone and Mars hope other companies will follow their lead and invest additional equity in the fund. Likewise, the two companies are talking with government agencies and international lenders about possible debt finance.... the returns are unconventional. For starters, social and environmental factors weigh alongside economic concerns. Key output measures of those projects backed by the fund, for example, will comprise increases in farmer incomes, improvements in farmer livelihoods and benefits to the environment (especially carbon emissions mitigated or sequestered through reforestation).... Any financial returns will be used to repay any debt raised, with the remainder reinvested in future projects. In some cases, private investors may also be eligible for carbon credits that can be traded or used to offset their emission reduction obligations.... The fund isn’t entirely without precedent. In 2011, Danone launched a carbon investment fund, which has today grown to around €40m and counts nine other corporate investors, including Schneider Electric, Crédit Agricole and Hermès. The fund has so far financed the planting of 130m trees that it claims will sequester an estimated 8m tonnes of carbon dioxide....

Malaysia flood (update 3a): Sarawak floods receded, Peninsula damage estimates

30 January 2015: Sarawak floods receded

Floods continue to recede in Sarawak, only 19 left at a relief centre Posted on January 29, 2015, Thursday KUCHING: The floods in Sarawak receded almost completely A spokeswoman of the Sarawak National Security Council said only 19 people from six families in Bintulu were at a relief centre – the Sebauh Community Centre in Sebauh near Bintulu, the only one still open in the state.-Bernama

19 January 2015: Sarawak floods worsens, Peninsula damage estimates

Flood in Sarawak worsens this morning, remains unchanged in Kelantan and Perak   2015-01-19 11:37; KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 (Bernama) -- Flood in Sarawak worsens this morning with the total number of flood victims evacuated to relief centres rising to 3,201 from 736 families compared to 153 families last night.... Meanwhile in Kelantan and Perak the number remained the same as recorded last night at 354 and 80 respectively... In SARAWAK continuous rain since the last few days worsened the flood situation in several areas in the state, especially in Kuching, Samarahan, Mukah and Limbang divisions... The number of victims were expected to rise following continuous rain as well as king tides and the ongoing evacuation process, he said.

RM1bn loss from the floods and counting    2015-01-04 12:42; PETALING JAYA, Jan 3 (Sin Chew Daily) -- Damages caused by the massive floods in east coast and northern states on Peninsular Malaysia are estimated to be in the vicinity of RM1 billion... According to government officials, damages caused by the floods run up to RM878 million, and this includes RM350 million required to restore schools in five states, RM200 million to repair damaged homes, RM100 million for roads in Kelantan, RM132 million for Terengganu roads and RM96 million for repair of 93 hill slopes along the major roads.... The figure still does not include damages caused to rubber, oil palm plantation and agricultural sector, as well as loss suffered by residents and businesses.... Minister of plantation industries and commodities Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas has said the floods have affected approximately 7,500 oil palm smallholders in seven states (Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Johor, Perak, Selangor and Sabah), with affected areas of 24,000 hectares. He said the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) chairman to monitor the situation of 165,000 hectares of oil palm plantations that may be affected by the floods.....

12 January 2015: Malaysia December output dropped 22% mom

Palm Oil Output in Malaysia Slumps Most Since 2006 on Floods By Ranjeetha Pakiam  Jan 12, 2015 7:01 PM GMT+0800 ; After the deluge, the reckoning. Palm oil output in Malaysia fell by the most in eight years after floods hit plantations in the second-largest producer, according to official data that showed a bigger decline than expected.... Output tumbled 22 percent to 1.36 million metric tons last month from November, the biggest drop since December 2006, the Palm Oil Board said today. That compares with a 1.46 million-ton estimate in a Bloomberg survey last week. Reserves fell 12 percent to 2.01 million tons, smaller than the 2.05 million-ton median in the survey. Exports rose 0.4 percent to 1.52 million tons, while the survey showed a 2 percent drop....

10 January 2015: 145 flood victims in Johor, total in relief centers drops to 16,187

Number of flood victims in Johor continue to rise Published: January 10, 2015 01:47 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — The number of flood victims continues to go up in Johor this morning with 145 people in Segamat being placed at flood relief centres compared to 130 last night.... Meanwhile, the number of flood victims in Pahang, Perak and Kelantan continue to drop compared to last night, but the figure is unchanged in Terengganu. Thus, the number of victims moved to relief centres nationwide had dropped to 16,187 people from 17,719 victims last night.....  In the meantime, the levels of the major rivers in Terengganu are normal this morning. — Bernama...
7 January 2015: Forecast worries

Monsoon Surge in Malaysia Bringing Fresh Flood Risk for Palm By Ranjeetha Pakiam  Jan 5, 2015 6:34 PM GMT+0800  A monsoon surge that brought the worst floods in decades to Malaysia, hurting palm oil output in the second-largest grower, is forecast to move south this week, risking further inundations in Johor and Sarawak. Prices fell. Heavy rains will probably start on Jan. 7 or Jan. 8 in the two states and could last two or three days, potentially causing floods, according to Ambun Dindang, an officer at the Malaysian Meteorological Department. Johor, at the southern end of Peninsula Malaysia, together with Sarawak in Borneo Island account for about one third of the country’s total production. Palm oil rallied last week to the highest in almost two months after the severe flooding in the north hurt harvesting, and Ambun’s forecast raises the possibility of a second wave of disruptions further south. The wetter-than-usual weather that stretched from southern Thailand, through Malaysia and into Indonesia also triggered rubber-supply concerns, sending futures into a bull market. The floods will probably cut palm oil output and push prices higher, according to BNP Paribas SA....

2 January 2015: Impact estimates vary

Flood-Hit Areas in Malaysia May See Showers as Palm Oil Climbs  By Niluksi Koswanage  Jan 1, 2015 3:08 PM GMT+0800   Flood-hit areas in Malaysia, the second-largest palm oil producer, may see showers and storms over the first week of 2015, according to the national weather agency, while a U.S.-based forecaster said although more rain is on the way the region may receive less than initially expected.

Palm Oil Output Seen Slumping 20% After Malaysian Floods By Ranjeetha Pakiam  Dec 31, 2014 6:31 PM GMT+0800  Palm oil output in Malaysia will decline this month and next as severe flooding disrupts harvesting in the largest exporter after Indonesia, exacerbating a seasonal drop in production, according to RHB Investment Bank Bhd. Output may contract by as much as 20 percent in December from 1.75 million metric tons in November, according to Alvin Tai, an analyst at the bank who’s covered the plantation industry for 11 years. There’ll be a significant reduction in harvesting, he said by phone in Kuala Lumpur....

Maybank Research says floods have small impact on palm oil sector Wednesday, 31 December 2014 By: ISABELLE LAI; PETALING JAYA: Around 6.34% or 23,730ha of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd’s (FGV) total estates were affected by the recent floods, with opportunity loss for its fresh fruit bunches production estimated at 11,000 tonnes, said Maybank IB Research.
Its research head Wong Chew Hann, who maintained its earnings forecasts and “hold” call on FGV, said that this estimated FFB production opportunity loss represented 0.2% of the forecast annual production.... “The estimated flood damages (including repair costs) and opportunity losses due to the floods are RM21mil as at Dec 29, or 4% of our financial year 2015 net profit forecast of RM527mil,” she said in a note yesterday... Wong said any impact of the floods on the palm oil sector would be small as 2.7% and 3.2% of total planted areas in 2013 came from Kelantan and Terengganu respectively.... Additionally, she said that 1.5% and 2.5% of crude palm oil production from January to November 2014 came from Kelantan and Terengganu respectively....

Peatlands in Malaysia and Indonesia - map and info sources

Khor Reports: The TFT-CA-Wilmar new policy is generating big questions on the palm oil supply chain impacts in peatland zones. For convenience of Khor Reports readers, we have collated below some useful resources on the topic. A slew of reports are emerging from equity analysts as several listed plantation companies are highlighted as impacted in Sarawak, Malaysia; The Edge Malaysia reports In addition to Sarawak, there are also significant peatland zones in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The reaction and impacts on Indonesia plantations will emerge in due course. It is notable that the Norway-funded Indonesia moratorium has been extended and the moratorium zones are distributed and interspersed with plantation concession zones. NGOs such as Greenpeace have complained that the moratorium does not cover enough area (see Greenpeace links below; Greenpeace is associate of TFT in high carbon stocks policies for Golden-Agri Resourcs / Sinar Mas). Various studies by Miettinen et al. have informed ILUC parameters that is expected to impact market acceptance for biofuels from Malaysia and Indonesia.
source: APFP website, accessed 18 Feb 2014

ASEAN Peatland Forests Project (APFP)
Overview Map of Peatlands in Southeast Asia (SEA);; Peatland hectarage: Malaysia 2.6 million, Indonesia 20.7 million (map above)

"Two decades of destruction in Southeast Asia’s peat swamp forests," by Jukka Miettinen*, Chenghua Shi, and Soo Chin Liew in Front Ecol Environ 2012; 10(3): 124–128, doi:10.1890/100236 (published online 14 Apr 2011).

source: Miettinen et al., 2012
note: 1 sq km = 100 hectares

Wetlands International: different options available to palm oil;
Wetlands International: Central Kalimantan Peatland Project; Action Duration: Dec 2005 Until Nov 2008;  Donor: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands; with video on peat restoration project;

Greenpeace: Indonesia's Forest and Peatlands; Legally protected areas, proposed moratorium areas, and forests and peatlands at risk,
Greenpeace: Indonesia's Forest and Peatlands Map Source,

Source: Greenpeace website, accessed 18 Feb 2014