Palm oil has been a miracle crop for Malaysia’s smallholders, providing incomes that have led to hundreds of thousands being lifted out of poverty. Oil palm small farmers enjoy incomes four times greater than the national poverty level, while their communities benefit from the influx of business and social services that follow oil palm developments.
And these benefits are not solely provided to men, the traditional breadwinners in Malaysian society. Women have also been able to harness the prosperity afforded from oil palm cultivation. Women who have previously relied on alternative crops are now looking to the cultivation of palm oil to increase their incomes and contribute to a more prosperous industry. And the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) is also looking to help these new oil palm smallholders to benefit from decades of research and development and improved knowledge of agriculture production.
As reported by the New Straits Times (NST), MPOB is providing training to small producers of palm oil and support by providing fertilizers for the first two years of cultivation. Salimah Kanawang, a smallholder interviewed by the NST, says, “We are happier and can live more comfortably than before.”
Malaysian small scale farmers like Salimah Kanawang and future producers stand to benefit tremendously from Malaysia’s efforts to increase prosperity and the palm oil industry’s efficiency through initiatives such as the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) under the Economic Transformation Programme. Under the NKEA, Malaysia has identified a series of priorities such as improving oil palm yields, implementing biogas capture technologies and training smallholders that will support the industry’s achievement of GNI of RM178 billion by 2020.