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By Shikin Louis
KUCHING, Sept 5: Underage children helping family-owned oil palm farms should not be classified as child labour, says Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said in the context of Sarawak, there are smallholders who are planting oil palm on their Native Customary Right (NCR) land.
“These smallholders are actually a family enterprise where their children help the parents in the farm. It has happened where the children aged 14 or 15-years-old – maybe they are on school holidays.
“They are helping their family and that cannot be categorised as child labour. That is the culture that we have when we have a family-owned farm including oil palm,” he said when officiating at the East Malaysia Palm & Lauric Oils Price Outlook Conference & Exhibition 2023 (emPOC2023) held at Imperial Hotel here today.
The Premier mentioned that he conveyed this perspective to foreign leaders during his recent work visit to Sweden, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
“Although what happened was that he was nodding (to show comprehension), I don’t know whether they acknowledge it or not, but at least they have listened that that is part of our culture,” he added.
For the record, Sarawak has the highest oil palm planted area in Malaysia, contributing about 1.6 million hectares to the country’s total of 5.7 million hectares. That accounts for 29 per cent of the country’s total oil palm planted area in 2022.
Abang Johari also mentioned that Sarawak’s production of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) in 2022 reached 4 million metric tons, reflecting a notable increase of 2.50 per cent from the previous year.
As of January to June 2023, Sarawak’s CPO production has reached 1.7 million metric tons – a 2 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2022.
Amongst those present were Bursa Malaysia Berhad chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar; Deputy Minister of Food Industry, Commodity & Regional Development (Commodity & Regional Development) Maclaine @ Martin Ben; Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer and Bursa Malaysia Derivatives chairman Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift and Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA) chairman Eric Kiu. — DayakDaily