Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh and a very good afternoon. 

  1. To begin, I want to express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this esteemed gathering at the inaugural MPOA National Palm Oil Conference 2023 (NPOC2023), hosted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA). This is a momentous occasion especially given the significance it holds within the palm oil industry, particularly with Budget 2024 on the horizon. This conference I believe will serve as a vital platform for knowledge exchange and networking amongst MPOA members and stakeholders in the plantation sector.
  1. Under the overarching theme of "PALM PROGRESS: FUTUREPROOFING COMPETITIVENESS AND SUSTAINABILITY," this event aims to facilitate and sustain important dialogues on various pressing issues in our industry. I am particularly pleased to see that sustainability and plantation management will take center stage through illuminating panel discussions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Over the years, Malaysia's oil palm industry has played a transformative role in establishing our country as a global leader in the edible oil markets, while also fostering our national economy. This sector stands as a resilient socio-economic pillar, significantly contributing to rural development. It has consistently provided employment opportunities, stimulated spin-off industries, and bolstered foreign exchange earnings. Moreover, the entire supply chain has consistently contributed substantial tax revenues, highlighting its economic importance.
  1. However, we must collectively work towards sustaining the prosperity of these critical facets of our industry. While Malaysia is blessed with palm oil, we must also acknowledge the challenges of navigating the global agricultural landscape. It is important to emphasize that removing palm oil from the global food supply would have devastating consequences for our industry and the world at large.
  1. Malaysia's contribution to the palm oil industry is remarkable. As of December 2022, oil palm planted in Malaysia stands at 5.67 million hectares occupying only 0.1% of the world's agricultural land which translates into a significant share of approximately 18% of the world's exports of edible oils and fats. Here, I want to emphasize that the industry's sustained growth and competitiveness, even in the face of social and environmental concerns is laudable.
  1. Our country remains committed to confronting discriminatory trade practices aimed at undermining this essential agricultural commodity. As such, we will continue our efforts to engage with the European Union and other stakeholders following the implementation of the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) to protect our industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. The oil palm sector operates under unique conditions, intrinsically tied to a biological and perennial tree. It requires continuous investments, labor-intensive practices, and management of a complex supply chain. The journey thus far is marked by the collective efforts of oil palm planters and stakeholders, along with supportive government policies has been challenging yet successful. Therefore, it is our shared responsibility to ensure this narrative of success continues to set a sustainable course for the industry's future.
  1. Beyond the Malaysian oil palm industry, it is heartening to note that this industry aligns seamlessly with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and Malaysia's MADANI agenda. This alignment reflects our commitment to sustainability, not just as a buzzword, but as a guiding principle for inclusive development.
  1. Furthermore, I firmly believe that this conference holds paramount importance, transcending the immediate impact of knowledge-sharing. It is poised to shape the future priorities of the plantation sector and significantly influence the Malaysian economy. This event is not just a platform for voicing industry aspirations but a lighthouse in guiding policymaking and fostering sustainable growth.
  1. The future of the Malaysian oil palm industry hinges on costproductivity, competitiveness, and sustainability. Our call to action is clear as it is imperative that we must convene all stakeholders to address these pressing concerns and chart a well-defined roadmap for the sector's future. This endeavor is not merely a necessity; it is an opportunity to drive positive change and ensure the continued growth and vitality of this vital segment of Malaysia's economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. In closing, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the MPOA for organizing this conference with finesse and foresight. I eagerly anticipate our gathering tomorrow evening at the MPOA Gala dinner which provides us with a post-Covid-19 opportunity to strengthen camaraderie, build networks, and engage in renewed conversations about various aspects of the palm oil industry.
  1. On this note, it is with great pride and honor that I officially inaugurate the Malaysian Palm Oil Association’s National Palm Oil Conference 2023.

Please stay vigilant and committed as we embark on this collective journey towards a sustainable and prosperous future for our industry and our nation.

Thank you