This malaysiakini article Palm oil farmers hit hard by price decline and the report in the Star should be read before we can evaluate the problems in the palm oil industry.
In the malaysiakini article, it is reported that farmers prefer to let the ripe fruit rot on the trees and this appears to be such a waste unless it is the millers who do not want to buy unless at steep discounts.
In the Star article, there is a United call for government help from the major plantation groups.
These companies are requesting that TNB burn their bio-diesel so that demand for palm oil is maintained. We know that TNB is already suffering from the lop-sided IPPs that benefitted BN cronies and taxing consumers more.
It reminds me of the comment made during the USA hearings on the Auto Big 3's request for US$billions to save the auto industry. One congressman said,
"It did not help their case when each of the CEOs flew to Washington in their executive jets."
Plantation companies have been reaping record profits in recent years and ironically on the same day, the Star published KL-Kepong's latest annual reports that showed significant increase in profits.
As a very minor stakeholder in Batu Kawan, I am glad to see the latest report but I feel these big companies should provision for bumper years as well as lean years.
For those small-holders, they should be encouraged to form co-ops so that they can achieve better economies of scale or perhaps FELDA or other large group can purchase the crops instead of wasting the fruits.
I am sure the fruits should be worth more then the cost of harvesting that is done by mostly foreign workers. Maybe all the details of this problem have not been discovered.
Photo: thanks to malaysiakini