Zuraida: “Optimum use of organic fertiliser ensures good returns”

IN light of escalating fertiliser prices which can make up 60% of the total palm oil production, the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) has urged growers – regardless their plantation size – to switch from chemical fertilisers to optimum usage of organic fertilisers.  

According to its minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin, using organic fertilisers – in addition to giving good yield to planters – can also help enhance food security, considering safe food production can protect Malaysian consumers from the hazards of diseases brought on by food.  

This is also in line with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, an agency under the United Nations to implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). 

“MPIC also encourages palm oil planters to optimise the use of land by implementing intermittent cultivation, which can help improve the quality of the ecosystem and soil fertility, and in turn, increase the production of palm oil,” Zuraida remarked. 

Local and innovative methods 

Oil palm cultivation is currently facing an increase in operating costs of between 10% and 15% due to surges in the cost of fertiliser, labour, and fuel. 

“Understanding that rising palm oil fertiliser prices are an inevitable global phenomenon stemming from inflationary pressures and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the use of local methods to address shortages and exorbitant fertiliser prices is more effective,” Zuraida noted. 

“Among the innovative methods is the production of bio-fertilisers using palm kernel shells (PKS) – which are usually burned or planted – through a pyrolysis process to produce PKS biochar, which is then treated with other biomass such as chicken manure to produce bio-fertiliser, which can then be used as fertiliser for palm oil.” 

It was previously reported that MPIC had opened up applications for two incentives, namely the Oil Palm Integrated Farming Scheme (ITa) and the Agro Bank-MPOB (Malaysian Palm oil Board) Easy Financing Scheme. 

Under ITa, oil palm planters who plant pineapples are eligible for incentives of RM7,000 per hectare, while those who grow bananas, watermelon, corn, and papayas receive RM3,000 per hectare. 

This intercropping incentive aims to encourage farm owners to diversify their sources of income through cash crops and optimise the use of their land while enabling them to recover the excess production cost that they incur from rising fertiliser prices. 

In the face of rising fertiliser prices and the current situation due to inflationary pressures and war in Ukraine and Russia, industry players and smallholders need to think of aggressive measures to overcome these challenges and ensure their returns from palm oil are not affected. – June 14, 2022 

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