Fadillah urged to investigate complaints from oil palm smallholders on FFB purchase restriction

Mordi (second right) and Chong (second left) speaking to two of the estate smallholders. Behind are the lorries waiting to be allowed to enter the mill to sell their FFB.

KUCHING, Dec 13: Plantations and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof has been urged to investigate complaints from oil palm smallholders that a palm oil mill in Lundu has restricted the purchase of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) of oil palm.

According to Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen, he visited the palm oil mill with Mas Gading MP Mordi Bimol today after receiving the complaints and during their visit, they saw about 40 lorries waiting outside the gate of the mill with some waiting for more than a day.

“According to some of the smallholders, the situation has been going on since November, and they suffered losses due to the rejection and restriction on the purchase of FFB,” he said in a statement.

Chong, who is also Stampin MP and Padungan assemblyman, explained that FBB needs to be sold to mills for extraction within three to four days after being harvested, or the fruit would rot and go to waste.

He said they have also met up with the mill’s manager to understand the situation and were told that the mill has undergone repair and maintenance works in the last few weeks, which resulted in the restriction in purchasing FFB and that one of the mill’s boilers is currently under repair.

“However, the manager promised to expedite and start accepting and purchasing the FFB by this afternoon, notwithstanding that a notice not to accept any FFB for yesterday and today has been issued. The estate smallholders also complained that the weighing process is slow and ought to be sped up.

“Estate smallholders rely solely on the sale of FFB to sustain their farm. If they can’t sell their FFB expeditiously, they will suffer losses.

“Furthermore, as more oil palm trees are maturing, the mill needs to be further upgraded to cater to the increased production of FFB. The minister must act now. Otherwise, such a problem will recur in the near future,” he said. — DayakDaily