Oil Palm Industry Economic Journal Vol. 7 (1) March 2007 p. 1-8

Technological Development and New Growth Areas of the Oil Palm Industry

Mohd Basri Wahid; Lim, W S and Mohd Arif, S
Received:    Accepted:    Available Online:


Technological development has transformed the Malaysian palm oil industry into a strategic and well planned industry that responds to global challenges. In particular, genetic knowledge since as early as 1912 first led the phenomenal growth of the industry through the planting of tenera instead of dura palms. This was complemented by the government allocating land to the poor and landless to plant more oil palm, in great part causing the area to increase from 54 000 ha in 1960 to 1.02 million hectares in 1980 and 2.03 million hectares in 1990. By 2006, there were 4.16 million hectares of oil palm, constituting nearly two-thirds of the national agricultural area (Table 1). Malaysia continues to be the world’s largest palm oil producer with a production of 15.90 million tonnes in 2006. The success of the crop is largely market driven with good longterm price prospects for palm oil making oil palm more attractive than most other crops. Palm oil contributes more than one-third of the national agricultural GDP, generating RM 31.81 billion in export earnings in 2006, making it one of the pillars of Malaysia’s economy. At present, the industry employs more than 1.5 million people in the core and related sectors. This paper provides an overview of the technological developments which have propelled the industry into a strategic and important sector and which will shape the future of the oil palm agro industry.

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