PETALING JAYA: Sabah’s palm oil production could be cut by half, dwindling as much as 300,000 tonnes a month under the conditional movement control order, according to plantation owners.
The Malaysian Estate Owners’ Association (MEOA) told Reuters that palm oil mills formerly operated up to 22 hours a day during the peak production season from September to January.
Under the CMCO, operating hours have been reduced to 12 hours from 6am to 6pm, which can create a “massive backlog”.
Palm fruit bunches that are not processed right after harvesting could be left to rot, subsequently reducing yields.
“The perishable nature of crops will have disastrous consequences to the growers, especially the numerous smallholders in Sabah,” the news agency reported MEOA as saying.
Coupled with worsening labour shortages and wet weather, the output from Sabah – the county’s biggest palm oil producer – MEOA warned “could cut the state’s output by half”.
The state produces five million tonnes of crude palm oil annually, accounting for 25% of the nation’s output.
Reuters said that MEOA, and the Malaysian Palm Oil Association are appealing to the state government to lift the restrictions.
MEOA’s concerns comes just as the Sabah government is recommending that the National Security Council extend the CMCO in the state as it was still recording a high daily number of new Covid-19 cases.
The statewide CMCO was imposed on Oct 13 and was scheduled to end on Oct 26.