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By Yee Mei
KUCHING, Sept 5: Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has likened oil palms to coconut trees as the former can also absorb carbon and become a carbon sink.
Speaking at the East Malaysia Palm & Lauric Oils Price Outlook Conference & Exhibition (emPOC2023) at a local hotel today, he made reference to his recent trip to Sweden, Norway, and the United Kingdom (UK), where the issue of oil palm was raised.
“I used to remark to our friends who are quite skeptical of the oil palm industry that if they can accept coconut, they should also accept palm oil. Because coconut is (a type of) palm, and it’s the same family.
“But if you classify coconut as a tree, sometimes they call it a coconut tree, we can also call palm a palm tree. Because biologically, it is similar. That’s why I think there has been somewhat a shift in the perception of oil palm,” he said in the press conference.
Earlier in his speech, Abang Johari said that he told Swedish officials, by extension to the EU (European Union), that Sarawak is committed to facing climate change and having proactive policies to mitigate carbon emissions and preserve its permanent forests and land use.
“I shared with them that palm oil is a tree if coconut is called a tree. After all, the process of photosynthesis is there among oil palms. But at the same time, oil palms also absorb carbon, and therefore, it can become part of (the) carbon sink.
“But we had only allocated a certain area (of land) for oil palm, and at the same time, we want to make sure that we also treat our mangrove (forests) and peat soil,” he said.
According to Agricultural Reviews, an official publication of the Agricultural Research Communication Centre, the coconut is considered the most stable carbon store with a lifetime of around 50 to 60 years and can store carbon for a long time. — DayakDaily